Grow these gorgeous summer bulbs for abundant color
Bulbs are marvelous things. They come up year after year and you can forget about most of them in their dormant season. They produce the loveliest flowers with the most fragrant scents and they naturalize easily, unless the deer, skunks or gophers get them of course! Even then, there are many that shrug off such threats and thrive in enemy territory, like daffodils, calla lilies and naked ladies. These 10 top summer bulbs are listed in no particular order as they are all wonderful and all grow well, except if eaten by gophers, skunks and other critters. You can lift most bulbs during their dormant season and keep them safely out of harm's way.
1. Liliums. Orientals, Asiatics, tree lilies, martagons, all lilies are worth growing in abundance, in pots or in the garden. They are never completely dormant, even when they've retreated into the ground for winter, so must not be out of the soil for too long and should be lightly watered during dormancy. They'll reward you with bigger and more plentiful blooms each year and make lots of babies to give away. They are easy to propogate too. Different types flower at different times so you can have them all spring and summer long.
2. Agapanthus. Strictly speaking, these are rhizomes, not bulbs, but they act in a similar way. They stand out in any garden, with their bright white or clear blue flowers on tall stems, coming out of strappy leaves. If they're happy, they'll make big clumps so give them some room.
3. Dahlias. There is an extraordinary variety of dahlias available, from delicate little pompoms to giant, saucer sized flowers for the very back on the border. My preference is for the ones in between but they are all lovely. I love the cactus flowered ones that come in bi-colors. Snails love them too, so keep an eye out for the blighters. Dahlias are also rhizomes, if we're being strict.
4. Begonias. I used to dream about begonias when I first discovered them. I was so enamored of them, and still am today. With fleshy leaves and colorful, tissue paper flowers dripping out of them, they are stunning. They come in lots of colors and I have white, red, yellow, pink and orange sitting on my veranda. They like afternoon shade.
5. German Irises. Another rhizome, this is really a spring bloomer but some of the varieties you can get now bloom again at the end of summer, and they're really worth having. Irises are so easy to grow. Just pop them in the ground and give them the odd sprinkle now and then.
6. Crinums. They come in all shapes and sizes, but are mainly white, pink or striped white and pink. Their large lily flowers are heavily scented and they really catch the eye. In my area of Northern California, a South African native has made itself at home in many of the gardens and roadsides. These flowers appear in mid to late summer on bare stems, the strappy leaves only appearing in the cooler months, hence their nickname, Naked Ladies.
7. Calla Lilies. People seem to have strong preferences when it comes to Calla Lilies. Some favor the classic white ones (also known as arum lilies) which grow like weeds around here. Others love the smaller, colored varieties and these are my personal favorites. I once grew a whole bunch from seed and they flowered about three years later. Early summer bloomers, calla lilies have big, spear-shaped leaves and the chalice flowers peek out or over, depending on how tall they grow.
8. Monbretia. Also known as Falling Stars due to their drooping habit, monbretias are great in sun or shade but soon grow out of pots. They're water wise and make a great looking clump of yellow, orange or red in the flowerbed.
9. Spider Lilies. Mine are in flower at the moment. Despite their large size, they do well in pots and throw out numerous white flowers per stem. Real tropical looking plants, mine have survived a couple of nights below freezing and don't seem too fussed.
10. Hippeastrums or Amaryllis. Here in the States, these beauties are forced for indoor winter growing as they make beautiful Christmas decorations. But actually, they are summer flowers and last for ages in a pot on the veranda or in part shade in the garden. Their flowers are mid-sized to huge and they are quite spectacular, with a wide color range and pretty seed pods.