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Fresh plants and flowers start to fill the tables at our Garden Centers in Spring, but don’t forget to take a walk inside to browse our gorgeous range of Summer-blooming bulbs available now!

Some of the most popular and beautiful summer-blooming plants, like Dahlias, can be hard to come by during their showiest season. Why? Because they are best planted as bulbs or tubers during the early days of Spring.

Just like Fall bulbs need to be thought of in advance if you hope to have the best Spring flowers, Summer-blooming bulbs like Dahlias, Lilies, and Gladiolus also need to be planted when fully dormant in order to have them establish well and perform best during the peak of Summer.

Tips for Selecting Bulbs

When buying your Summer bulbs, think about the height and color of each variety and how that will complement your existing planting scheme. That doesn’t mean that you have to be locked into one color palette—sometimes a pop of color from a grouping of unique Gladiolas is just what a planting bed needs!

Dahlia Dinnerplate Cafe au Lait

Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait’

Dinnerplate Dahlia

Dinnerplate Dahlia

Dahlia' Venti Passion Fruit'

Dahlia ‘Venti Passion Fruit’

Dahlias – These classic and showy plants have received a new life and have grown immensely in popularity thanks to new breeding that has made a wide range of trendy colors and new forms available to the home gardener. Dahlias typically have multiple petals that can be spikey or rounded and make full, large blooms. Plants range from 2 feet high up to 5-6 feet and bloom beginning in August through to the first frost. Tubers can be left in the ground or lifted to overwinter in drier conditions.

Gladiolus 'Sugar Plum'

Gladiolus ‘Sugar Plum’

Gladiolus 'Olympic Flame'

Gladiolus ‘Olympic Flame’

Gladiolus 'Chocolate'

Gladiolus ‘Chocolate’

Gladiolus – The spear-like foliage of gladiolas emerges directly from the little puck-like corms in the ground and produces a tower of cup-shaped blooms. Colorful, rainbow-hued varieties might be more of what has been seen traditionally, but we think the newer green options and rich burgundy tones are perfectly suited to more modern aesthetics. Reaching 2 to 4 feet in height, Gladiolas bloom beginning in June and July, depending on the variety.

Oriental Lily ‘Kaveri’

Oriental Lily ‘Kaveri’

Oriental Lily ‘Salmon Star’

Oriental Lily ‘Salmon Star’

Tiger Lily ‘Splendens’

Tiger Lily ‘Splendens’

Lilies – Lilies produce tall, strong stalks of dramatic blooms that emerge each Spring from their scaly bulbs and as they age the plants get larger and bloomier. The only fragrant option of the Summer-blooming bulbs, an Oriental Lily will have large flowers with a sweet, intense musk, while a Tiger Lily boast incurved petals and is fragrance-free, as is the shorter Asiatic Lily. Colors range from clear white through to saturated black, with lovely orange, coral and pink tones in between.

Our favorite Summer-blooming bulbs all make spectacular cut flowers. Rather than growing them as part of your garden beds, you can also grow Summer bulbs in a dedicated cutting garden. Think about how the colors will work together in arrangements and consider adding a few fragrant Lilies to the mix to heighten the impact of your bouquets!

Bulbs come in straight colors that usually have 2-8 bulbs per package and are also available as pre-selected mixes with more bulbs per package. Consider weaving these colors through a bed, or planting all of them in a single clump.

Tips for Planting Bulbs

Plant when the soil can be worked and easily dug—soil shouldn’t be frozen solid or sopping wet when planting.

Follow the planting depths on packages. Keep in mind that Lilies tend to pull themselves down deeper into the soil over time, and Gladiolas are more likely to get pushed to the surface as they interact with other plant roots.

  • Plant Dahlias 4-5 inches deep
  • Plant Gladiolas 4 inches deep
  • Plant Lilies 7 inches deep

Amend the soil with bone meal when planting—the phosphorous in the bone meal will ensure extra strong stems so the plants don’t flop over under the weight of their beautiful blooms.

Don’t be afraid to plant Lily bulbs tight alongside other plants—they do well when supported by other plants and look lovely coming up through Roses!

Gladiolas can be woven through a border or planted in a single clump—just be sure that if they are planted alone, they are deep enough not to get knocked over by winds or irrigation.

Dahlias love rich soil and regular water and should be mulched with a nice layer of compost or manure over the top. Keep them deadheaded to ensure a heavy production of blooms.

Now is the time to plant your Spring bulbs for Summer blooms! Summer might seem a million years away right now, but plan your plantings now so that you don’t miss out on the best selection of Dahlias, Lilies, and Gladiolas!

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