You can’t beat summer-flowering bulbs for providing a riot of colour in beds and borders and patio containers. Growing summer-flowering bulbs is a great value way of bringing big, impressive flower displays to your garden. There are lots to choose from, including the highly popular begonias, cannas, dahlias, gladioli and lilies to name but a few.


Many summer-flowering bulbs, such as lilies, are hardy and only need to be planted once – coming back year after year. Others are either borderline hardy or frost tender and will need to be lifted in late autumn and stored frost free over the winter.

Most summer-flowering bulbs generally prefer a warm, sunny position – although begonias grow brilliantly in the shade – so choose a position that gets plenty of sunlight.

purple, orange and white begonias

Before planting, prepare the soil first and, in poorly drained soils, it’s a good idea to place a 2.5cm (1in) thick layer of grit or gravel in the bottom of the planting hole to improve drainage and prevent the bulbs rotting.

As for planting depth and spacing, there are no set rules, but use the bulb as your guide and plant it two or three times its depth. Space them roughly two to three bulb widths apart.

Most summer-flowering bulbs are ideal for growing in patio containers, and this is ideal for the tender species as the pots can then be lifted in autumn and stored frost free, bringing them back out the following spring.

patio pots and planters

As many of these plants are not completely frost hardy, keep an eye on the weather and be ready to protect any young growth that appears above ground level with fleece if frosts are forecast.

Most are easy to care for, although those with large flower heads, like the impressive begonias and dahlias, or tall stems, such as large-flowered gladioli, may need staking. Apart from that, the most important thing to ensure a mass of flowers all summer long is to keep plants well watered and well fed, using a high potash liquid feed regularly.


For more gardening information, help and advice, visit and check back tomorrow for more bulb planting hints and tips!

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