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Summer Bulbs! Tips for Success!

General Information, Shade Annuals, Sun Annuals

Summer Bulbs! Tips for Success!

Summer-flowering bulbs and tubers are planted in the spring. These tender bulbs can be planted every year or can be removed from the ground in the fall and stored for planting the following spring. They should not be planted until average daytime temperatures are 75-80 degrees. Three of the more popular summer-flowering bulbs are Canna, Caladium, and Elephant Ear.

Cannas create a luxurious tropical effect in the garden with their large, smooth leaves and bright flowers. Massed in beds, clumped as a background or border, or filling tubs or pots on the patio or beside the pool, canna contribute not just handsome greenery but constant, bold color during the summer months. Cannas will grow well in full sun and tolerate some shade, but must have a half a day of sun in order to flower. They bloom from late spring to fall and grow to a height of 3 to 6 feet. Plant the rhizomes 3-4 inches deep and, depending on the variety, 18-36 inches apart. Cannas can be dug and stored for winter, but if left in the ground they usually survive Oklahoma winters.

Caladiums are grown for their large colorful leaves as landscape bedding plants. These 1-3 feet tall plants bear bi-colored or tri-colored leaves. These plants add bold strikes of color to shady garden areas. They are easy to grow in decent soil. Caladium bulbs (actually tubers) need to be planted in shade but will have better foliage color if the area receives adequate light. Plant bulbs 2-4” deep, but wait to plant until the soil and night temperatures are warm (60 degrees), usually early May.

Elephant Ear produces velvety, heart-shaped, over-sized leaves which are a dramatic addition to any landscape. They make an excellent foundation plant or a background plant for a bed of caladiums and impatiens.  Each leaf (or ear) can grow to 3 feet wide and 4 feet long, while the total plant can reach a height of 6 feet in one season. Elephant Ear requires shade, but will take some morning sun. The plants will die down with the first hard frost. At this time it is recommended that the bulbs be dug, dried and stored until planting in May.

Gladiolus bring a lot to the garden party, including a huge color palette, vertical interest, and bloom times that harmonize well with summer’s most colorful perennials. Plus, they’re a versatile cut flower, and the ruffled single florets can even be plucked off the stem and arranged in vases and bowls. Plant these easy to grow bulbs around May 1stin well-drained soil either at the back of the flower border or thickly enough so they’ll self-support as the foliage grows. Before freezing weather, store the corms in a frost-free place for winter and replant them again in spring

Lilies have something for everyone. These hearty bulbs are available in many different varieties, such as Asiatic Lily, Calla Lily, Daylily, Oriental Lily, Nerine Lily, Star Gazer Lily, and Trumpet Lily.Their summer blooms are the highlight of the garden, and they are long-lasting as cut flowers. Most lilies bloom between June and August, and the large, trumpet shaped flowers feature a variety of colors and designs. They do well in a bed or border with other perennials, or they can stand alone. Shorter varieties can be planted in containers.  Partial shade is best and plant the top of the bulb at least 4” below the soil surface.

TLC Garden Centers’ carries a large selection of other summer-flowering bulbs, including: Dahlia, Anemone, Bleeding Heart, Clematis, Fern, Freesias, Hollyhock, Liatris, Peony, and many more. Shop early for the best selection, but delay planting until late April or May. Be sure to apply Hi-Yield Dutch Bulb Food or Bone Meal when planting.

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