Summer Garden Bulbs – When To Plant Bulbs For Summer Flowers

By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)

Traditionally, bulbs like tulips and daffodils represent an easy way novice growers can create beautiful landscapes. Much like their spring counterparts, summer blooming flower bulbs can add great depth to flower beds and borders. Beginning to explore which bulbs bloom in summer is one of the first steps in creating stunning warm season gardens.

When to Plant Bulbs for Summer Flowers

Summer flowering bulbs can maximize a flower garden with bountiful blooms. Since flower bulbs that bloom in summer are frequently tender to frost, they are most commonly planted after the weather has warmed in the spring.

Planting time will also vary depending upon each bulb type and the gardener’s USDA growing zone. Though some summer garden bulbs are grown as annuals, many types can be lifted and stored indoors over winter. This often takes place in fall.

Which Bulbs Bloom in Summer?

  • Begonias – Tuberous begonias are a good choice for gardens that receive some shade in the summer. Showy, double flowered blooms work well in flower borders near paths and driveways due to their low growth habit. Like many bulbs which bloom in summer, tuberous begonias can be lifted and overwintered indoors.
  • Caladium – These tropical looking plants are prized for their unique foliage, which comes in a diverse array of colors and patterns. Heat loving caladiums are adaptable to both full shade and part sun growing locations.
  • Calla Lily – Another low grower of the summer flowering bulbs, calla lilies have unique cup-shaped blooms. Calla lilies make ideal cut flowers due to their long vase life and are an excellent choice for the cutting garden.
  • Canna – Yet another tropical looking plant, canna plants thrive in heat. Cannas produce showy flower spikes in the peak of the growing season. Depending upon the growing zone, canna bulbs may also need to be lifted and stored indoors over the winter months.
  • Dahlias – Technically tubers, dahlias are extremely popular summer flowering bulbs. Diversity of flower size, shape, and color is immense from one variety to another. Dahlia plants range dramatically in height, making them ideal for ornamental plantings. Dahlia tubers should not be planted until the soil has warmed, as these plants are prone to rot in soil which is cold and/or wet.
  • Gladiolus – Known for the production of large flower spikes, gladiolus plants are among the easiest flowers to grow. Plant gladiolus corms from spring until summer for a succession of vibrant, colorful blooms.
  • Liatris – Ever popular with bumble bees and a wide range of other pollinators, this bright purple flowering bulb is sure to brighten the garden space. The fuzzy-looking flower spikes of liatris can also serve as a garden focal flower among perennial plantings.
  • Oriental Lily – While many types of lily can be planted in early spring for summer flowers, Oriental lilies are among the most popular. Immensely aromatic, these large blooms are sure to please growers as well as anyone who passes close enough to smell their fragrance.

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Read more about General Bulb Care

Top 10 Summer-Flowering Bulbs

Summer-flowering bulbs and tubers are a great way to fill gaps with bursts of bright colour
Image: Begonia x tuberhybrida 'Giant Picotee Mixed' from T&M

Many people associate bulbs with spring, but there are plenty of flower bulbs and tubers to grow in summer too. What’s more, it’s easy to squeeze a few summer-flowering bulbs into your garden - they take up very little space, and reward you with bursts of colour from spring until autumn.

Plant your summer-flowering bulbs, corms and tubers just as the weather starts to warm up in spring. As a rule of thumb, most bulbs should be planted at 3 times their depth, but there are a few exceptions so it's worth reading our 'How to grow bulbs' article for more information.

Here are 10 of our favourite summer-flowering bulbs for inspiration…

Flower Bulb Categories

Whether you have acres of land or are creating a container garden on your balcony, the gardeners here at American Meadows are 100% commited to your success. One of the most important aspects of creating a successful garden is choosing the right Bulbs. We've made it easy by categorizing our Bulbs by growing conditions.

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Zinnia is a flowering plant that grow showy flowers from early summer until the first frost. The flowers are generally large globular blooms that come in a variety of brilliant colors. These flowering plants grow as perennials or annuals and thrive in full sun. They are also in the list of drought-tolerant plants. Some Zinnia cultivars are tall flowering plants, and others are dwarf varieties.

One reason to choose Zinnias for your summer garden is that their cut flowers retain their blooms all summer. They also are a perfect choice for window boxes, mixed borders, containers, or edging plants.

When to Plant Spring Bulbs

Most spring-planted bulbs are tender and susceptible to the cold. Therefore, if planting outdoors, wait until all danger of frost has passed in your area before planting your spring bulbs. Many gardeners start their tender bulbs indoors in the spring and then transplant them to the garden after danger of frost has passed.

How to Store Flower Bulbs

In many areas of the country, tender bulbs must be dug up, or lifted, in the fall, stored indoors over winter, and then planted in the spring. In the fall, after the plant’s foliage has withered or turned brown by a light frost, dig up the bulbs. Air dry the bulbs in a well-ventilated area for about a week. Do not dry the bulbs in the sun. After drying the bulbs, they can be stored in dry peat moss or wood shavings in a brown paper bag, open crate or netted bag. Store them at 50-55 degrees F. in a dry location until time to replant.

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