If you’ve already mentally prepared your summer garden with instant bedding plants and luscious foliage, you may want to consider adding seasonal bulbs. Plant in spring and these can flower from June right through to the end of September, maintaining an ever-changing, blossoming garden. Now that our British soil has started to warm up, there is no time like the present to get bulbs into the ground.
The list of bulbs and tubers to choose from to brighten borders and patio containers is endless, and can be somewhat overwhelming. As such, we’ve itemised a few of our easy-to-manage favourites:
1. Alliums grow airy spheres of purple blooms followed by flamboyant seed-heads. Their upright stems add height and structure to well-drained borders or containers and can be grown in full sun or partial shade. Use large groups of Allium 'Big Impact Mixed' to see high summer through to late summer.
2. Begonia tubers can also be planted now and produce beautiful flowers over an incredibly long period, from summer all the way through to the first frosts in November. These are model candidates for a window box or hanging basket and are perfect for adding long lasting, vibrant colour to those tricky shady areas. Choose a fragrant variety such as Begonia 'Fragrant Falls Improved' to hang close to doorways for the fresh scent of summer as customers come in and out.
3. Gladioli offer exotic colour, extravagance and structure to all borders, pots and containers. For majestic, ruffled, mauve pink blooms choose Gladiolus 'Tango' and grow them in full-sun. They also make great cut flowers if you would like something homegrown to decorate evening tables with.
4. Crocosmias are the number one if you’re after fast growing plants, as they will multiply quickly and wander through borders all on their own. The upright, strap-like foliage, and arching stems tipped with starry flowers in red, orange or yellow are striking, have an air of the tropics and are perfect for summer.
How to plant bulbs:
As with all planting jobs, use gravel or broken down pots at the bottom of containers for drainage to avoid the bulbs becoming waterlogged and rotten.
Bulbs should be planted at three times their own height, paced one bulb apart. Make sure the ‘pointy bit’ of the bulb is facing upwards. For a real punch of colour, plant bulbs in large groups, more is more!
Cover the bulbs with compost, leaving an inch at the top of the container for watering.
Water the bulbs well to make sure moisture reaches down to them and doesn’t just wet the top of the compost.
Keep them watered throughout the season; this can be once or twice a week dependent on weather conditions – just keep an eye on the top soil for dryness.