Summer flowering bulbs are easy to grow and provide a big impact in your flower garden. The most commonly available are:
- Calla Lily
- Canna Lily
I use the term ‘bulb’ loosely because most of what you will find packaged at Art's Nursery this spring are technically corms, rhizomes and tuberous roots, along with ‘true’ bulbs.
A true bulb’s rounded form is made up of modified leaves called scales. The pointed top is where leaves and flowers will grow. These sit on the flat ‘basal plate’ where roots are formed. The wonderful thing about true bulbs is they reproduce by offsets or daughter bulbs and are easy to pull off and propagate.
Commonly known true bulbs are lilies, alliums and amaryllis. One lily that I am loving this year is call Beverly’s Dream. It is an oriental trumpet lily that has been known to get to up to eight feet tall after a few years of maturing in optimal conditions. It has a paintbrush of red inside stark white with a little yellow in the center. Beverly’s Dream will make a bold statement in your garden along with an intoxicating strong fragrance.
A corm looks very much like a true bulb on the outside but it doesn’t have scales. Instead the inside is made up of a fleshy modified stem. The plant uses up the entire corm in a season but produces copious offsets. Examples of corms are gladiolas and freesias. My favorite gladiola this year is called ‘Velvet Eyes’ and has a deep, dark, almost smoky purple. I’m looking forward these cut flowers.
Rhizomes are modified stems that grow sideways just under the surface of soil. Each break (or growing point) in the rhizome will put out roots hairs and grow another stalk. This makes dividing easy. Examples are iris, canna lily and calla lily. One calla lily that I’m considering planting this year is called ‘Captain Safari’ and is a two tone beauty with an antique rose-red, fading into an orange center.
Tuberous Roots (or Tubers)
Tuberous roots look like ordinary roots that have been dug up. They don’t give offsets but get bigger ever year and can be divided as long as there previously was a stem attached. A piece of root itself will not grow into a plant. When lifting in fall, store in peat moss or coco fiber with a little sulphur dust directly on the roots to ensure no mold.
The most familiar tuberous roots are peonies and dahlias. I have been growing dahlias since childhood and my garden wouldn’t be the same without one. This year I’m excited to grow the ‘Babylon Red’ giant dinnerplate dahlia. With 10” flowers, this variety will provide vivid color in my garden that is a true fire engine red.
Planting Summer Bulbs
Plant your bulbs when danger of frost is gone. This is usually late March or early April in Metro Vancouver. It is best to wait a little longer for some of the more delicate ones, like Dahlias.
Some, like Calla or Canna lilies should (or need!) to be dug up and stored in a cool, dry indoor area in peat moss or coco fiber for winter. Keep plants in the ground that are hardy to your zone but make sure they are in well drained soil as they are prone to rotting. They will all benefit from a generous amount of bone meal at planting.
When you’re visiting Art's Nursery this spring, keep a look out for a few of these varieties and the many others I didn't mention. I’m all about the bold bright colors this year and my picks definitely reflect that.
Summer Blooming bulbs are typically available from late February through early April. Best selection is in early March. drop by Art's Nursery and check out our selection of gorgeous, easy to plant summer blooming beauties.