Summer-flowering bulbs

by Adam Pasco

March is an expensive month - I'm often tempted to order far too many summer bulbs from both mail-order companies and the internet.

Adam Pasco unpacking a box of summer-flowering bulbsI'm a sucker for summer-flowering bulbs, and at this time of year I always get carried away. March is an expensive month — I'm often tempted to order far too many summer bulbs from both mail-order companies and the internet.

I use the term 'bulb' as a general catch-all term for those plants that can be grown from dormant bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes. Among my regular favourites are begonias, dahlias, canna lilies and eucomis, the pineapple flower. Then there's galtonia, the summer hyacinth, an easy-to-grow bulb that produces flowers during August, filling that colour gap between summer perennials that have passed their best and autumn ones that are yet to start flowering.

My lilies have already been planted, but bulbs may still be available, usually with shoots emerging. Then there are delightful acidanthera, bright but short-lived tigridia, climbing glory lily (gloriosa), and weird arisaema. Good garden centres may stock popular bulb ranges, but for something more unusual you really do need to do a little research, and that's the joy of the internet. Within a few minutes you can discover bulbs you've never seen before — just show some restraint before pressing the 'buy' button!

Many of these summer flowering bulbs are tender exotics that really need to be planted in pots of compost rather than directly into the garden. Coming from warm and tropical regions of the world also means they enjoy warm growing conditions, so a greenhouse or conservatory really is helpful to provide the protection needed to get them started.

I'm off to unpack a large box that the postman has just delivered. It seems I got carried away ... again.

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Gardeners' World Web User 24/03/2009 at 16:46

As the proud owner of some beautiful narcissi that are flowering whilst still in the nets they arrived in, I sympathize with your "buying too much" plight. But I never despair and I am sure the bulbs will be planted soon. The good thing is I can now spot exactly where I need them in patches bare of any spring colour. I can even pretend I planned it that way!

Gardeners' World Web User 24/03/2009 at 17:19

I buy weired and wonderfull bulbs and plants when we go to flower shows, last year at the Gateshead one I visited the dutchman on his bulb stall, hes very nice and you always get a bargin. Planting my bulbs in long toms last year when they'd finnished flowering they got put in different places round the garden to make way for other things. Forgetting about 2 longtoms I had the suprise of my life when my husband came walking up from the greenhouse with a longtom in full flower tete a tete daffs and to my suprise 3 large shoots of something from the dutchman sticking out the compost with them, not sure what they are but they'r interesting. This made me look for others, 2 more with something interesting pokeing through in them one is double planted some leaves are twisted, any idea? others look very lilly like.So I've 3 already planted long toms. At the end of this flowering should I empty them out and replant in new compost? I would like to keep them in long toms because I have very heavey water holding clay soil and a lot of bulbs have rotted off, only bulbs that grow well in it are the pineapple lillies which I have quite a few of now.

Gardeners' World Web User 27/03/2009 at 22:07

I also like buying bullbs, my children say im addicted! My garden is just full of bulbs and iv got even more to plant out this weekend. All my lilly's and allium bulbs are coming through so i do believe my garden will look a picture this summer as long as the lilly beatles dont make a meal of them.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/03/2009 at 17:41

My lilly bulbs arrived this week from Gardeners World Monthly Magazine, I can't wait to plant then in new tubs and see the wonderful colour they will bring to my garden this summer, It is the first time I have bought out of the magazine, so I am rather exceited.

Gardeners' World Web User 06/04/2009 at 10:21

Reply to, I think you're referring to beneficial fungi called mycorrhiza. Check out the web site for rootgrow friendly mycorrhizal fungi at I also remember David Austin Roses selling such a product, too. They come as powders to mix into the soil at planting time.

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