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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Summer Flowering Bulbs in Containers

Take container gardening to the next level by utilizing bulbs for stunning summer displays. Summer flowering bulbs can bear some of the most beautiful blooms or striking foliage, adding surprise pops of interest to your porch or outdoor garden. This gardening adventure can be very cost-effective because you probably have leftover pots or half-full bags of soil from spring waiting to become fruitful. Summer flowering bulbs come in packages that can be used for multiple pots or in those spots around your garden that need a little extra attention.

To show your 4-H spirit, plant Shamrock bulbs. Shamrock plant (oxalis) should be planted 1 inch deep and 1 inch apart and grown in full sun to light shade. Foliage will be shaped like purple or green shamrocks in just few short weeks, followed by a cheery floral display. Shamrocks will not thrive if they are not allowed to dry between watering. For a 12-inch pot, plant 10-15 bulbs.

To get a boost of color when gardens are lacking, plant Crocosmia. Plant it 2 inches deep and 1 to 2 inches apart and grown in full sun. Crocosmia boasts gorgeous red, orange and yellow blooms later in the summer, followed by sword-like foliage. The blooms are very attractive to hummingbirds. The containers will benefit from adding compost or fertilizer treatments when leaves start to grow. For a 12-inch pot, plant 6-12 bulbs.

To add an exotic touch to your existing floral display, plant pineapple lily bulbs in pots. The bulb pineapple lily should be planted 3 to 4 inches deep and 6 inches apart in full sun to partial shade. The flower is shaped like a miniature pineapple on top of glossy thick leaves. This guaranteed attention grabber can come in an array of colors from burgundy, green to cream. Use low-nitrogen cactus fertilizer when leaves appear. For a 12-inch pot, plant 1-3 bulbs.

For a touch of class, plant ranunculus bulbs. The ranunculus bulbs should be planted 2 inches deep and 2 inches apart in full sun. Ranunculus delicate blooms come in many colors, produced in early fall on top of lacy foliage. For stronger blooms and healthy foliage, add fertilizer every two weeks after leaves appear. For a 12-inch pot, plant 6-12 bulbs.

All of these bulbs are tender, which means they will not overwinter outside in our climate. However, when the pots of bulbs have faded, start withholding water and allow foliage to yellow. Place in cool garage withholding water and allowing the bulbs to become dormant throughout the winter. Then next spring, tease healthy bulbs from old soil and plant anew.


Photo by Cornell Cronicle