by Carol Siddall, Master Gardener
When most of us think of planting bulbs in our garden, we usually think of spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, or crocus. These early bloomers do provide us with much needed garden color after a long winter but many gardeners overlook the large number of summer blooming bulbs that add interest to our gardens.
Summer blooming bulbs can help fill the gaps in your garden when early flowering perennials have finished blooming. Just like the spring blooming bulbs, summer bulbs are incredibly easy to grow and incorporate into garden schemes. Some are suited for shade and others really like the hot summer sun. Some are cold-hardy, while others hail from warmer climates and must be dug at the end of the season before a freeze.
I often tell people that say they kill everything they plant, try bulbs. They are so easy and "almost" fool proof. Dr. William Welch, Texas A & M AgriLife Extension horticulturist says, "bulbs are a good fit for today's garden because they are low water and low care plants".
Incorporating some of these summer blooming bulbs into your garden will add color, texture, and height. Tubers and corms like dahlias and gladiolus respectively are sometimes called bulbs. Containers are a great place to plant bulbs. Be certain to confirm the bulbs you are planting need shade, such as caladiums and elephant ears, or sun like cannas and dahlias.
I plant many summer bulbs, but my favorites are caladiums. Although they flower, caladiums are grown for their foliage. These bulbs are often planted in mass to provide a large space of color in garden beds or containers. Leaves can be shaped like arrows or hearts. In our USDA hardiness zone, 8b, you will have to dig them up or let them freeze.
Another favorite is the dahlia. It is a "tuber" that generally blooms from midsummer to the first frost. They range in color and size. My mother raised beautiful dahlias. I did not inherit that part of her green thumb! They make great cut flowers too.
Happy Gardening and Happy Mother's Day to all Mothers!