Friday, April 22, 2011

Summer Bulbs from A to Z

Spring blooming bulbs have yellowing foliage here, pleasant memories of blue, yellow and white blossoms remain as we wait for hyacinth and narcissus foliage to steal away.

Agapanthus -- blooms Mid-June here. I can hardly wait.

Some of my summer blooming bulbs like Lycoris and Oxblood Lilies also have yellowing foliage. Naked blooms will appear in mid to late summer. Others like Agapanthus and crinums have green foliage with blossoms a month or two away. Not every plant that I call a 'bulb' here is an actual bulb. Some are corms. Some are tubers. Some are rhizomes. All have energy storage capacity for the next season's bloom. I love that bulbs are perennial and most are tough.

Bulbine, shown here the tangerine blooming behind a poppy.

Caladium for color in the shade.

Cannas and Colocasia. A popular bulb vendor has already sold
out of the yellow striped canna. Mine have foliage about 8 inches tall.
Clivia -- easier to grow than an orchid and more unusual than an Christmas cactus, according to the Chicago Botanic Garden. I mean to try this bulb soon.

Crinum -- String Lily, one of a number of Crinums that grow here.
String Lily foliage is appearing from stolons in the birdbath bed.

Crocosmia -- a thug. Butterflies love it. Its grassy foliage is
swallowing other plants and I pull it like grass.

Dahlia -- Sometimes Dahlias bloom in my garden, but they are never really happy, so I stopped terrorizing them by asking them to grow in hot and humid.

Dietes -- African Iris. I noticed new growth today.

Elephant's Ears -- See Colocasia

Eremurus -- another bulb I intend to buy soon.

Freesias -- I've brought these to bloom but they never persist. They like cool but not freezing.

Natal lily -- Gladiolus natali. This is a tough plant. Grows here at an old home site.

Gladioli -- spikes of foliage from previous plantings dot the garden now. I never expect more than first year bloom from new corms. Any subsequent year's blooms are a pleasant surprise. Regular and minature glads and various species glads corms are available.

Hippeastrum -- Amaryllis in my garden are sullen. All refused to bloom, while the forced bulbs that I gave my non-gardening neighbor two and three Christmases ago are happily blooming beside her porch near a water faucet.


Lilium -- asiatic hybrids, oriental hybrids, L. Regale and Longiforum and its hybrids are all beautiful. I can't choose a favorite except to say my favorite is always the one currently blooming. Buds have formed and I hope for early blooms. Some of the older lilies that I planted have disappeared, including the lovely Trumpet, 'African Queen.' Some that dwindled I potted up to try to encourage their return.

The Easter Lilies we see this week are L. Longiflorum, forced for Easter bloom. Planted in the garden, they will bloom in June next year. A better choice for garden use are Longiflorum/Asiatic hybrids, with the best qualities of both parents.

Lycoris radiata -- these give spectacular late summer bloom.
Lycoris squamigera bloom mid-summer and are beautifully pink.

Rhodophiala (Oxblood lily) -- another late summer beauty.

Sternbergia -"In the bulb-beds the bright yellow Sternbergia lutea is in flower. At first sight it looks something like a Crocus of unusually firm and solid substance; but it is an Amaryllis, and its pure and even yellow colouring is quite unlike that of any of the Crocuses. The numerous upright leaves are thick, deep green, and glossy. It flowers rather shyly in our poor soil, even in well-made beds, doing much better in chalky ground. - Gertrude Jekyll
When my Sterbergia from Barbara in Texas failed to bloom after one season in shade, I moved it this spring to a sunny location and gave it a little lime, hopeful of fall bloom this year.

Society Garlic Tulbaghia -- Like the Bulbinellas, these plants with aloe-like foliage do not last through many winters here.

Zantedeschia -- I'm hoping for calla lilies in bloom again very soon. Their foliage is good.
I love the history of Calla lilies, known as pig lilies in their native country. Here they die back in winter and again when the weather is unbearably hot, blooming in cool seasons.

This is not an exhaustive list. I've already thought of four more. How about you?

Bulbs are available in nurseries and from online vendors generally shipping through May.
All pics are my own from previous years' bloom.


  1. What a great collection of plants!!

  2. Oh dear, I just planted Crocosmia bulbs. Maybe I should rethink about where I planted them if they spread so much. I love your Crinum they look so delicate. Lycoris would be a wonderful addition if it is a late summer bloomer.Your are so pretty. Calla lilies are just beautiful. I have two ready to pot for this summer. What a wonderful posting.

  3. We tried Eremurus last year, it produced a fair showing. This year oe barely came back, doubt it will bloom, the other is history. The hot dry summers here are likely why they did not do so well.

  4. Oh, lots and lots of lovely pictures! I planted oxblood lilies last Fall, but I suspect they may have died, or maybe aren't doing well. Right now, there are 3 or 4 anemic-looking, thin strappy leaves coming up from where I planted them. The flowers don't show up till nearly Fall, right? After the leaves have died back?

    I just planted Crocosmia too. I keep thinking I'd like some Calla lilies. I wonder if I can grow Agapanthus here.

  5. Dear Nell Jean, A wonderful catalog of bulbs. Your garden is a joy to behold! P x

  6. What an amazing collection of bulbs, most of which we in the UK can only grow as indoor plants or as bedding plants for the summer, lucky you !

  7. Very interesting plants! Really lovely and unusual plants. Some of the exotic plants are really fascinating but unfortunately won't grow in my area.

  8. I always especially enjoy your bulb posts. You are the reason I know anything at all about bulbs, and the reason I have them in my gardens. Thanks for sharing.

  9. You really have some beauties in your garden. They are greenhouse plants here, and the have some unusual form, like the String Lily.

  10. Over the years, many of my lilies have disappeared....especially the Asiatics and the Trumpets. I need to begin replacing them.

    I may be down to just whites and pale lemons now...will have to wait and see. They are loaded with blooms this year.

  11. Great selection of plants from your garden, we grow the Agapanthus in tubs and keep them in the unheated greenhouse over winter, place them in a sunny spot at the beginning of May and they bloom beautifully from mid July.The Crocosmia behaves with a little more respect in our climate.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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