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Top 10 Summer Flowering Bulbs to Plant in Spring


Summer-flowering bulbs provide some of the biggest, best and most exotic-looking blooms, and spring is the best time to plant them. Not only do they look fabulous growing in borders or containers, but many make wonderful cut flowers too, so you can also enjoy freshly-picked blooms in your home.

Dahlia Art Deco

You’ll often find these beauties ready-grown and in full bloom at the garden centre during summer, but this is the most expensive way to buy them. With a small amount of early planning you can easily grow them yourself, setting your garden up to be a colourful oasis at a fraction of the price.

So, if you’re itching to get out in the garden or even just to start planning your glorious summer of colour, you’ll be pleased to know that now is a great time to start.

How to grow summer-flowering bulbs

You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy summer-flowering bulbs. Here are some top growing tips:

  • Your bulbs will be sent to you at the perfect time to plant them. When they arrive, soak them in a bucket or tray of water. Doing this will wake them up and give them a good start when planted;
  • Plant frost tender bulbs or tubers, as per their instructions, in large 12in pots with a good quality multipurpose compost. Water them thoroughly and leave them in a bright, frost-free place to grow (a greenhouse, polytunnel or conservatory is ideal). Once shoots and leaves begin to emerge, water whenever the soil dries out. In late May, or after risk of frost has passed, the bulbs can be planted out into the garden. Water them regularly throughout summer. Just before the first frosts, cut back the old growth right down to the ground. Carefully dig up the bulbs, shake off excess soil, and position in a shallow tray in a dry, frost free place for winter. Next spring, plant them again, repeating the process above;
  • Hardy varieties, like crocosmia, gladiolus, lilies and polianthes, can be planted straight outdoors in spring. In the autumn, or after flowering, cut back all of the past season’s growth down to ground level and leave them for winter – they’ll grow back of their own accord the following spring;
  • Picking flowers and deadheading regularly encourages more grow, extending the flowering season.

The best summer-flowering bulbs

If you feel inspired plant summer-flowering bulbs, here’s our pick of the 10 best to plant this spring:

Dahlias

You can’t beat dahlias when it comes to impressive blooms. Choose from a vast array of vivid colours and types, including pompon, windmill, single flowered, cactus flowered and so many more.

Dahlia Franz Kafka

Dahlias look great in any kind of planting scheme, suiting both traditional and contemporary gardens. Not only this, but they make brilliant cut flowers too, providing a continuous supply of amazing flowers throughout summer – the more you pick, the more they keep coming!

Grow dahlias in full sun or partial shade, in borders or large containers. Many are bee friendly.

Dahlia details:

  • Height 40cm-1.5m Spread 40cm-80cm
  • Plant in spring, flowers during summer
  • Bee-friendly flowers
  • Suitable for cutting
  • Suitable for borders
  • Frost tender

Buy Dahlias →

Begonias

Best grown in pots and hanging baskets, bright-flowering begonias are generally compact or trailing. Producing repeat blooms all summer long, they’re a super summer plant and really pack a punch in bedding displays.

Begonia Double Red

Begonias need to be protected from frost, so plant the bulbs in containers and start them off in a greenhouse or conservatory. In late May, or once risk of frost has passed, plant them out into the garden.

Most thrive in sun or shade, so they’re particularly useful for adding bright blocks of colour to dull spaces. As with all container plants, they need regular watering throughout summer. Once the flowers have faded, dig up the tubers and store for winter in a dry, frost-free place ready to plant again the following spring.

Begonia details:

  • Height 30cm-60cm Spread 30cm-60cm
  • Plant in spring, flowers during summer
  • Suitable for pots and borders
  • Frost tender

Buy Begonias →

Gladioli

Producing tall stems packed with large, bright ruffled blooms, gladioli make a big impact in the border. They’re also fantastic as cut flowers.

Gladioli Corms UK

Despite their exotic looks, gladioli are fully hardy. Plant them in close groups directly into borders during spring and leave them to it, they’ll begin to flower from mid-summer onwards.

There’s a huge choice of colours available, and their tall flowering spikes fit well with both traditional and contemporary planting schemes. They’re best grown in mixed borders in full sun, but they can tolerate partial shade.

Gladiolus details:

  • Height 80cm-1.5m Spread 30cm-60cm
  • Plant in spring, flowers during summer
  • Suitable for cutting
  • Suitable for borders
  • Fully hardy

Buy Gladioli →

Calla Lilies (Zantedeschia)

These exotic-looking lilies look brilliant in patio pots or narrow, raised beds. They form an attractive clump of lush foliage, topped with bold funnel-shaped flowers.

Black Callas

Suitable for growing in full sun or partial shade, calla lilies are a great choice for smaller gardens or for growing in containers on patios or balconies. There’s a great range of colours available, and with large, simple flowers, they’re perfect for contemporary styles.

Calla lilies aren’t frost hardy so they need to be brought inside to survive winter. They’re a lovely, modern alternative to traditional summer bedding plants and really easy to grow.

Calla Lily details:

  • Height 30cm-80m Spread 30cm-80m
  • Plant in spring, flowers during summer
  • Bee-friendly flowers
  • Suitable for pots and borders
  • Frost tender

Buy Calla Lilies

Lilies

Lilies are one of the best summer bulbs to grow for fragrance and for use as cut flowers. Producing very large, exquisite flowers repeatedly throughout summer that also attract bees, it’s no wonder they’re so popular.

Pink Lily Bulbs

Lilies come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, varying from short varieties that grow to around 60cm, right up to tree lilies that can reach over 2m tall. Happy in containers, lilies are suitable whether your garden is large or small, growing well in full sun or partial shade.

Fully hardy, these excellent plants can be planted directly outside in spring. Tall varieties do require staking.

Lily details:

  • Height 60cm-2m Spread 30cm-60cm
  • Plant in spring, flowers during summer
  • Bee-friendly flowers
  • Suitable for cutting
  • Fragrant flowers
  • Suitable for pots and borders
  • Fully hardy

Buy Lilies →

Peonies

With large, intricate and often delicately fragrant blooms, peonies put on a show-stopping performance in the garden. What’s more, they’re fully hardy, so you can leave them in the ground during winter and enjoy their flowers every year.

Peony Sarah Bernhard

Peonies are easy to grow and tolerate most soil types and aspects. To enjoy them to their fullest, put a support in place over the plant in spring before they get too tall. This can be a set of canes with a mesh of twine webbed between them, or stakes which connect to circular ‘hats’. The stems will grow through the support and the foliage will cover it up so it doesn’t show, but most importantly, the large, heavy flower heads will stand tall and strong.

Peonies flower from early summer onwards and they make excellent cut flowers. You only need a couple of these large blooms mixed with some foliage from the garden to make a really beautiful bouquet. Deadhead them regularly to extend the flowering season. In autumn. After the foliage has turned brown, cut back the old stems right down to the ground.

Peony details:

  • Height 60cm-1.2m Spread 60cm-1.2m
  • Plant in spring, flowers during summer
  • Suitable for cutting
  • Fragrant flowers
  • Suitable for pots and borders
  • Fully hardy

Buy Peonies →

Crocosmias

Reliable, resilient and hardy crocosmias are so easy to grow. They’ll thrive virtually anywhere, be it poor soil, drought, scorching hot sun or shade. If you want effortless colour, it’s hard to go wrong with a crocosmia!

Yellow crocosmia

There are various crocosmias to choose from, all producing late-summer flowers in bright, fiery shades. Taller varieties, such as ‘Lucifer’ look great planted in swathes or large groups in borders. Smaller varieties, such as ‘Emily McKenzie’ or ‘Mistral’ are useful for more confined spaces or narrow beds. These are the kind that grow naturally on grassy banks, they’re also great for dry, coastal or gravel gardens.

Crocosmias provide excellent late-summer colour that lasts well in to autumn. They’re great for combining with other late-summer perennials, such as echinacea, rudbeckia or nerines. After flowering, cut the flowering stems and foliage down to ground level. They’re fully hardy, so can be left in the ground over winter.

Crocosmia details:

  • Height 50cm-1.2m Spread 50cm-1.2m
  • Plant in spring, flowers during summer
  • Bee-friendly flowers
  • Suitable for pots and borders
  • Fully hardy

Buy Crocosmias →

Polianthes

If you like growing flowers to use in bouquets, look no further than polianthes. Producing tall flowering spikes, they not only provide colour, structure and fragrance in borders, but they make striking cut flowers too.

Polianthes Bulbs

Polianthes are fully hardy so they can be planted straight into the ground in spring. Flowering in the summer, they require very little maintenance throughout the season and naturalise over the years, producing more flowers each time.

Plant polianthes in sunny borders with rich, free-draining soil. The flowering stems reach up to 80cm in height, so they’re ideal for planting in groups in the middle of the border.

Polianthes details:

  • Height 80cm Spread 80cm
  • Plant in spring, flowers during summer
  • Bee-friendly flowers
  • Fragrant flowers
  • Suitable for cutting
  • Suitable for pots and borders
  • Fully hardy

Buy Polianthes →

Agapanthus

It’s easy to create an impressive, eye-catching display with agapanthus. With large, rounded flower clusters above tall, slender stems, they look fabulous in containers and also have a long vase life when cut.

Blue Agapanthus

Whether your garden is large or small, a container filled with agapanthus creates a chic and contemporary look. Flowering from mid-summer onwards, the late flush of colour they provide extends the season just as many other plants are starting to fade.

This versatile plant is well suited to modern styles, but equally fitting in traditional or cottage-style planting schemes. Plant them in groups in full sun or partial shade. They also attract bees.

Agapanthus details:

  • Height 1m Spread 80cm
  • Plant in spring, flowers during summer
  • Bee-friendly flowers
  • Suitable for pots and borders
  • Fully hardy

Buy Agapanthus →

Daylilies

This profuse flowerer provides high-impact colour with continuous blooms that are produced daily throughout summer.

Daylily Pandora's Box

Daylilies, botanically known as hemerocallis, are easy to grow and fully hardy. Thriving in full sun and with excellent drought tolerance, they’re brilliant for sunny mixed borders or large containers.

Daylilies can be planted straight outdoors in spring. They’re hardy so there’s no need to lift them in the winter, simply cut back the faded foliage at the end of the season and they’ll grow back the following summer. They’re happy in most soil types, but they do prefer full sun.

Daylily details:

  • Height 80cm Spread 80cm
  • Plant in spring, flowers during summer
  • Fragrant flowers
  • Suitable for pots and borders
  • Fully hardy

Buy Daylilies →


1 comment


  • Cathy Chazal

    Good helpful blog. I like the way you describe the plants as well as giving details about planting and flowering habits


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