Summer Blooming Bulbs – June-September Summer Bulbs
Summer Blooming Bulbs – June-September Summer Bulbs
I have arranged my selection ofinto three main groups, according to their flowering time.
- Winter blooming bulbs – January-March
- Spring blooming bulbs – April-June
- Summer blooming bulbs – June-September
The following is a list of summer blooming bulbs, ie. summer bulbs which flower from June to September, withand spacing requirements.
Not many new types of bulb flower reach the amateur gardener, so the acidanthera is worthy of a place in the garden if only on novelty value, though it has been available for some considerable time now. At first it was thought to be a form of gladiolus, for its leaves are similar, but the flower is more open and star-shaped – white with a purple throat, and quite strongly scented. Given plenty of sun it will bloom in July, but most of them run from August to September.
Agapanthus – African lily
This is an unusual bulb. It needs rich , plenty of water, shelter and a sunny spot, and with all these advantages may still refuse to grow. Curiously, it does much better if kept in a pot. If it favours you, you could get up to thirty per plant. It stands about 60cm (2ft) high and the leaves are evergreen. When it does take, it thrives, and will need dividing from time to time. It has blue flowers, which appear in August.
This is among the last of the summer bulbs to flower. It is somewhat temperamental but wonderful when it does appear. Plant in mid to late summer, but although it should surface in September it may not appear until the following year. Also, it needs a warm, sheltered spot. It is unusual in that the perfumed pink blooms, on 60cm (2ft) stems, arrive before the leaves, which may continue to survive through winter.
Most anemones will appear now. They need plenty of sun, especially the tuberous varieties. ‘St Brigid’, ‘de Caen’ and ‘Giant French’ are all good and come in a wide range of colours: white, blue, pink, mauve, red and purple. They grow to about 30cm (1ft).
Anemones growing from rhizomes are slightly smaller and are more tolerant of shade. A. nemorosa is our native wild anemone.
It has to be said that the begonia has a somwhat ‘double life’: there are fibrous-rooted types that are better used as annuals and make such fine displays in borders and troughs or vases and here I mention the tuberous-rooted ones. They produce magnificent blooms on slightly ridiculous stems: short, fleshy and also rather weak. Often the weight of the flower snaps the stem, ruining the appearance of the plant. If this happens you can save the situation to some extent by placing the broken flower gently in a saucer of water: your improvised ‘water lily’ will last for several days. Better still, stake them!
They have done well for me in a sunny situation, but the general advice is to give them some shade. They make excellent solo plants in urns, or can be grouped to form a spectacular three- or five-bulb display. They have a tremendous range of colour: white, all shades of yellow, pink, red and orange.
This is one of the most handsome of the July-blooming bulbs. It is usually called the canna lily because of the lily-like appearance of its blooms. Rhizomes should be started in pots in the greenhouse in March, and hardened off and planted out in June. Lift them after flowering and replant the following April. This is a little more troublesome than with some bulbous types, but the regal flowers on 1m (3ft) stems make the effort worth while.
These bulbs, looking like large crocuses, flower well into autumn. They come in white, mauve and pink, and are so eager to display their colour before the frosts cut everything down that they will bloom for you without even being planted. Set them just as they are on a light window-sill, or even on a mantelpiece, and they will flower without any attention from you.
A surprise in August is the appearance of Cyclamen neapolitanum: it will bloom outdoors till October and still display its graceful ivy-shaped leaves for much of the winter. It can be left in the ground for years, during which time the may grow to about 20cm (8in) across. The pink flowers are pretty, but the leaf display is quite as attractive.
Kings of the August arrivals are the dahlias – the giants in every sense. They are greedy, for unless they are placed in rich soil they will not prosper fully, and they also need constant watering. Although they are perfectly hardy, you must nurture them well if you want the really spectacular displays of which they are capable. As you know, you can get them from seed for bedding displays, but it is the tubers that will give you the tall ones. Plant them 15cm (6in) deep and don’t forget to put in a stout stake. We can get some pretty horrible gales during their flowering period, and unless they are supported your painstaking preparatory work can be ruined in seconds. Incidentally, if you want to cut them, the golden rule is to do it in the morning or evening, never when the sun is at its height. You also have to be careful about lifting them. This should be done immediately after the frost has got them, first cutting the stems down to manageable length.
There are many classifications and hundreds of varieties in commerce, far too many to name here, and new varieties appear every year almost by the score. They are available in most colours, and study of an up-to-date catalogue is obviously the best way of making your choice. I can, however, furnish a quick guide to the types and sizes, which may help in deciding where to look!
Cactus and semi-cactus types have chrysanthemum-style ray florets. Decoratives have flat flower heads with broad, overlapping petals. Pompons or ball dahlias have globular flower heads, and Collarettes have a ring of small petals overlaying larger ones. Large-flowered types are just that: nominally 20-2.5cm (8-10in) in diameter and 1.5m (5ft) in height. Medium-flowered – 15-20cm (6-8in) and a little shorter. Small-flowered – 10-15cm (4-6in) and normally not more than about 1m (3ft) tall, and Pompons – 5-10cm (2-4in) and also about 1m (3ft) tall.
Eremurus – Foxtail lily
June produces what I regard as one of the loveliest of all bulb-type flowers, which, alas, is by no means as well known as it deserves to be. Another name is desert candle – very apt – and you begin to get an idea of what it looks like, which is reminiscent of a giant hyacinth. It really is a beauty, and two or three grown together in a clump make a majestic display, rising to 2m (6ft) or more. Huge blooms -white, yellow, orange or pink star-shaped flowers in their hundreds – are themselves a good 30cm (1ft) long, and the leaves can be double or treble this. Well-drained and fairly rich soil is essential for their well-being, and so is a good sunny spot. Given that, they will flourish and remain in flower for up to a month. Don’t plant them too close together: the crowns should be 60-90cm (2-3ft) apart. If you can bring yourself to cut one of the blooms (and have a room large enough to accommodate it!) it will provide a talking point.
This is one of the post-war miracles, for not long ago it was regarded as almost exclusively for the commercial grower. But new techniques have made it possible for the bulbs to be planted outdoors in the spring to flower around mid-July. Plant about 7cm (3in) deep and the same distance apart. You will get multi-coloured flowers and a spicy perfume till September.
Varieties of gladiolus are available in an enormous range of colours, from white through yellow, pink and red to purple. The large-flowered type has majestic blooms on spikes 1.2m (4ft) high. They come in a range of colours. Primulinas are the comparatively small and delicate members of the family, though they will rise to 1m (3ft), and there is a comparatively new strain, half-way between these two, called the Butterfly, differing from them in that the flowers are not hooded. It is advisable to support all gladioli: rather disfiguring for the garden. But wherever you have them remember that they do need sun.
Although August is regarded as the height of the gladiolus season, you can get some to flower in June. These are the small-flowered Nanus types, growing only 60cm (2ft) high at most. They are thus ideal for a border, but use them in groups – five should be the minimum. Plant them in autumn, as though for spring flowering, but protect them as they are not as hardy as the spring-blooming bulbs. They last a long time in bloom, and some throw a second spike.
Lilium – Lily
Lilies are widely regarded as exotic, expensive and difficult to grow. True, they do look opulent and fit only for the hot-house, but they are dreadfully maligned, for many of them are hardy, responsive and trouble-free. Many can be left outside for years on end, and they will produce a grand, even a regal, display every summer.
The lily is as tough as the tulip and less temperamental than the hyacinth, both close relatives. But there is one big difference. Their ‘bulbs’ take several forms. Some, in fact, are not bulbs, but rhizomes or stolons, and those that look more like orthodox bulbs lack the usual ‘tunic’ of brown skin and are made up of a series of scales. You can propagate by parting these scales and planting them separately, but they must be kept moist at all times. A dry lily is a dead one, for practical purposes. But equally, theyou plant must have good . Waterlogging is just as fatal.
Most lilies dislike lime, but the range is so wide that there are a few that thrive in it: Lilium candidum is an outstanding example, and Lilium regale, another favourite, will tolerate lime. Every garden should be capable of carrying a few lilies. If your garden is big enough, or you can provide a large enough area of good well-drained soil, with plenty of humus, you can have a lily display from May till September. Don’t lift them at the end of the season unless you have to; the less transplanting they suffer the better.
Some lilies form roots on the stem above the bulb; others root from the base. Stem-rooting ones should be planted 20cm (8in) deep and base-rooting varieties about half this, an exception being Lilium candidum, which need he only 3cm (1in) down. They take up a lot of room, so leave about 30cm (1ft) between each bulb.
You will he tempted to cut some for the house. If you do, cut the stem above the leaves. As with other bulbs, the leaves are the life blood of the young bulbs forming beneath the soil.
New hybrids are appearing every year, all very attractive. You are certain to get excellent results with them, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you will get wonderful perfume from all of them. Every lily looks wonderful, but not all of them carry noticeable scent. Meanwhile, most of the old favourites will continue to sell well for many years, and you cannot go wrong by growing a selection of the classics.
Lilium auratum, the golden ray lily, produces a number of strongly perfumed blooms, white with crimson and brown spots and the golden ray that gives it its name. It can grow to over 2m (6ft) and flowers in August to September. Lilium candidum, the madonna lily, loves full sun.
It has highly fragrant white flowers in June to July. Height – about 1.3m (4ft). Plant at any time from August till the frosts, but the earlier the better. Lilium henryi gives a spectacular finish to the lily season. Almost the last to bloom, it should go on till late September. This is the beauty with two dozen or more deep orange flowers with black markings, and deliciously fragrant. It is over 2 m (6ft), so stake it as you plant.
Lilium martagon is the famous Turk’s cap, probably the most widely grown of all. It flourishes anywhere, but seems to prefer lime. Standing just over 1m (3ft), it blooms in June and July with up to a couple of dozen purple-spotted flowers in a range of shades from pink to mauve. There is, however, a catch about this one. It is slightly ‘perfumed’ – but you may not like it.
Lilium regale, the royal lily, is well named, for it is one of the most accommodating, and best, of all lilies. White trumpet flowers are marked yellow and purple, and there is a lovely scent. It grows almost anywhere, to a height of 1-2m (3-6ft) and blooms in July. Have a clump of these among some ground-cover plants, not merely for effect but for protection for the base.
Lilium speciosum needs rich soil and prefers semi-shade, but will bloom in a sunny spot if surrounded by low-growing companions. Then it will enrich the air with its fragrance in August and September. Not very tall, about 1m (3ft), but with a range of Turk’s cap-style flowers and many colours.
Lilium tigrinum is the famous tiger lily. This one has no noticeable scent, but it is a very handsome plant and prolific in bloom, while varieties give succession from June till September.
This is, in a way, the poor relation of the gladiolus, (they are related, for they both belong to the iris family). They are smaller at about 60cm (2ft), and comparatively restricted in their colour range, being mostly in red, yellow and orange, but you should get two or three spikes from each plant, flowering till September. Try them not only in borders but along the base of shrubs and hedges. They multiply quickly, will soon form a very colourful display and are good for cutting.
Related to the amaryllis and also slightly eccentric. Nerine bowdenii, the easiest and one of the best, needs only shallow planting, but in good soil and in a sunny position. The leaves develop in spring and die in summer without any sign of life from the flower. That comes later, in September, and usually not until the second year after planting, when they are pink and feathery. It dislikes being moved, so tickle the soil occasionally to aerate and freshen it.
You would expect something special from a plant related to both the anemone and the buttercup, and you get it with the ranunculus. The tuberous rhizome is unusual: six longish claws grip down into the soil. Plant before winter in a sheltered spot, otherwise in February, and the close rosette flowers will appear from June to August.
Tigridia – Peacock tiger flower
This is similar to the gladiolus and in some ways outshines it. The corms are quite small, but they produce flower stems up to 45cm (1-1/2ft), each carrying half a dozen bowl-shaped blooms. Each bloom lasts only a day, but the plants do provide a good succession and there is no noticeable gap in flowering. For best effect use two or three dozen in a clump.