Plant bulbs this spring and summer for all-year color

montbretia
Montbretia. (Photo by William Wan, Creative Commons license)
Last Updated: 
March 22, 2012

CORVALLIS, Ore. – After the spring show of crocus, daffodils, hyacinth and tulips, flower gardeners may be at a loss on how to top the early vibrant color.

If you plant summer-flowering bulbs, corms and tubers in the spring, you'll carry color through the summer, said Ross Penhallegon, horticulturalist with the Oregon State University Extension Service.

A wide variety of lilies, dahlias, gladiolus and tuberous begonias are available from catalogs and garden shops. If you love bolder flower gardens, plant more out-of-the-ordinary bulbs, including summer hyacinths, Peruvian-daffodils, fragrant tuberoses, shell flowers and montbretia for striking summer garden accents.

For stunning color all the way through the growing season, plant fall-blooming bulbs in late summer and early autumn. Later-flowering species that bloom in the fall include colchicums, autumn flowering crocus, magic lilies of Japan, sternbergia and fairy lilies, to name a few. These are available in summer to early fall at nurseries and from bulb catalogs.

When it's time to plant, Penhallegon recommends planting each bulb as deep as the diameter of the bulb; if the diameter is one inch, plant the bulb one inch deep. "The soil needs to be well-drained and mulchy, with lots of organic materials," he said.

"Apply a small amount of general purpose fertilizer, organic or conventional, after the bulb emerges from the soil."

Don’t forget to check with your local nurseries. Each year they offer a new array of plant varieties.

Author: Judy Scott