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Plant spring bulbs for summer blooms

I can’t imagine a garden without the lovely fragrance of acidanthera (peacock orchid). A type of gladiola, the acidanthera flower is a white bloom with a maroon blotchy center, and like the gladiola, is a summer bulb.

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Summer bulbs and tubers are planted after the last frost date, once the ground has warmed a bit. In our area, this means planting will take place roughly from mid-May through June.

Gladiolas, dahlias, calla lilies, canna lilies and tuberous begonias are all planted in the spring for summer bloom. Some of these are tubers and corms, but for purposes of planting and storing, they tend to be grouped together under the term “summer bulbs.” These plants are not winter hardy, so they need to be lifted and stored in the fall before the ground freezes.

Bulbs should be stored in a well-ventilated, cool, and dry location. I generally place my bulbs in a paper bag with a little peat moss and place them on a basement shelf until spring. Mesh vegetable bags also store bulbs well.

Don’t store your bulbs in an air tight plastic container because this will retain moisture and encourage mold and rot. Remember to label your bulbs by type and color for easy identification the following spring.

Mixed with annuals, summer bulbs are a striking addition to your container plantings. Plant them close together to fill the container quickly. Canna lilies are wonderful container plants for blooms and foliage. Tuberous begonias, calla lilies and caladium also make great container plantings.

Try summer bulbs this year for a touch of the tropics in your yard.

Until next time, happy gardening!