How To Grow Summer Flowering Bulbs

How To Grow Summer Flowering Bulbs

Plug that gap in the border in an instant with a pot of flowering bulbs

At this time of year it is sometimes difficult to conjure up warm summer days spent in the garden & the delights that the scent & colour of a summer display can bring. A well-stocked border or patio gives your outdoor space the wow factor but it can be quite expensive if you buy pre-planted pots during the summer season. If you haven’t the space or time to plant from seed but still want to save some money, why not consider planting summer flowering bulbs?

How To Plant Summer Flowering Bulbs

An abundance of summer flowering bulbs can be found in the garden centre at this time of year & they come with instructions for planting distance & depth. To get the best effect they should not be sprinkled through a border like spring flowering bulbs but should be planted in groups of one type to make a bold statement. If you want to blend them into perennial planting try a curved sinuous block, taking into account height differences & colour schemes. Alternatively plant them up in pots either as part of a mixed display or in single flower type plantings. Part of the excitement of bulb planting is waiting for them to come up & watching them transform into a beautiful floral display.

beautiful floral display of summer flowers

From the delicate dangling Dierama to the bright saucer-sized blooms of Dahlias there are bulbs, corms, tubers & rhizomes that can be planted now to fill your garden with flowers all through the year. Some, like dahlias & gladioli, are best planted in spring then lifted in late autumn but many can be planted now & left to come up year after year, here are a few suggestions to fill your garden with flowers.

Early Summer Flowers

summer flower allium hollandicum

For early summer flowers you could choose the drumstick flower heads of Alliums to punctuate your borders or make a centrepiece in your tubs. There are lots of different varieties to choose from flowering from June to late summer in shades of white through to deep purple & even yellow. Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation' is an early & easy to grow allium which likes a sunny site & will grow to 100cm. The seed heads can be picked & dried for indoor displays or left on for interest & self-seeding (although the seedlings may not be as purple as the parents). Allium sphaerocephalon is a later flowering allium that produces its tighter clustered purple flower heads in July. Ideally Alliums should be planted in October in a sunny position in well-drained soil (about 10-13cm deep & 14cm apart, dependant on size) but they can be planted in spring although they may not flower in their first year. Alternatively, to create an impact in the border consider Eremurus, the foxtail lily. Their impressive spires tower above the garden during June & July in shades from yellow to dusky orange. They have strange shaped bulbs with long fleshy roots which are best planted on a layer of sharp sand and covered with soil so that the crown is just below soil level (10-15cm deep & 60-90cm apart). They enjoy rich, well-drained soil & can grow up to 120cm so they are best planted at the back of the border in full sun. They may need some winter protection from cold & wet by covering with a mulch of straw.

Mid Summer Flowers

mid summer flowering bulbs lily

The ideal choice for mid-summer is the lily, with their stately blooms & delicious fragrance they are a must for a container on the patio or for a site in the garden where you can sit & delight your senses. In general the Asiatic lilies provide the richer colours with vibrant oranges & yellows but lack scent; if you are looking for perfume you should try the Oriental hybrids including the white trumpets of Lilium speciosum var. album or the deep pink flatter blooms of the ‘Star Gazer’ lily. For best results, plant bulbs in free-draining, yet moisture-retentive, humus-rich soil in groups of five or seven (about 10-15cm deep depending on size), keep watered & fed during the growing season. Some lilies are lime haters & will need planting in a pot in an ericaceous/garden compost mix if you do not have an acid soil. For something a little different, especially in a damp spot near water, why not give Dierama pulcherrimum a go? The ‘angel’s fishing rod’ has delicate arching stems up to 1.5m from which dangle pink bell-like flowers.

purple dahlias

To get your garden brimming with colour you can’t go wrong with dahlias. The choice of size, shape & colour means that there will be one to suit the space you have, from small pom pom types to large cactus dahlias ranging from pastel colours to hot oranges & reds. They do take a bit more work because they grow from tubers which need to be lifted out of the ground for storage after the first frosts & before cold wet winters rot them away. Start the tubers into growth in a frost free place indoors in February/March or just plant out in late spring. Protect the young shoots from slugs & stake the tall varieties as they grow, giving them regularly feeds to promote flowering. They prefer a sunny site but are happy in a border & provide an endless supply of cut flowers up to the first frosts. You can do the same with gladioli corms which also have an abundance of colour choice or try the late flowering Gladiolus callianthus whose orchid like white blooms with central purple blotches exude a strong scent as a bonus!

Mid To Late Summer Flowers


Another mid to late summer flower that is easy to grow & produces a stunning display is Crocosmia. These are grown from corms which quickly bulk up to produce clumps that can be split in spring & replanted around the garden or given to friends. Their strap-like leaves make a subtle foil for the flowers which range from the hot fiery red of ‘Lucifer’ through to the more delicate apricot- yellow of ‘Solfatare’ or the golden yellow of the new variety Crocosmia ‘Suzanna’. They prefer sun to partial shade & a moist but well-drained soil & some, like ‘solfatare’ & the mahogany-orange ‘Emily Mckenzie’, may need winter protection in cold areas.

Summer Flowering Bulbs At Hayes Garden World


In store we have a large choice of summer flowering bulbs in stock so that you can pick your own combinations of flower type & colour. The range includes the bulbs already mentioned plus a great many more such as Agapanthus, Begonia, Canna & Anemone. If you are not sure what would look good together we also have a range of mixed packs available. These include packs of dahlias or lilies which include different varieties or mixed flower packs, all colour co-ordinated to make your life easier. The dahlia packs contain 8 tubers in a variety of shapes including pom pom, collarette, ball, cactus & decorative dahlias in a choice of rose, pink, red, white or orange shades. We also have individual dahlia tubers or lily bulbs which come in an enamelled planting bucket with compost & planting instructions – they would make a great present too, so why not give summer flowering bulbs a go this year!

Angela Slater

Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas.