By Paul James
When you hear the word bulb, you more than likely think of those that bloom in late winter to early spring – daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths, for example. But there’s another group of bulbs that you actually plant in spring for a summer show, and they’re among the most beautiful bulbs of all.
In fact, in many cases, you must plant them from bulbs (or corms or tubers or rhizomes), because they aren’t available as transplants. So, consider the following choices, knowing that you can’t go wrong with any of them, whether planted in the ground or in containers.
Related to Gladiolus, but different enough to deserve their own name, even if it is a mouthful. White, hauntingly fragrant flowers appear above graceful, sword-like foliage. Plant in full sun.
Although they aren’t hardy here, Calla Lilies are easy to grow in sun or partial shade and do great in containers, either alone or in the company of other annuals.
Okay, so they aren’t hardy in these parts, but they’re worth growing for their showy flowers. And if you’ve got a sunny area that stays moist, then you’ve got the perfect spot for this plant, which is also known as the Southern Swamp Lily.
Also related to Gladiolus (and Irises), these summer-blooming beauties are hardy here, and in my opinion they’re underused. Most varieties grow to about three-feet tall. Combine them with ornamental grasses for a show-stopping look.
Be forewarned: once you plant a Dahlia, you may be hooked for life! Though a bit of challenge to grow in our hot summers, they are nevertheless worth the effort. Flowers range from small to huge (folks call them dinnerplates), and the plants themselves grow from barely a foot to well ever six-feet tall, so be prepared to stake them.
No, they aren’t hardy, but holy cow are they ever sweetly scented and easy to grow! What’s more, their colors are incredibly vibrant and curiously arranged on their stems. (Just for kicks, look up the word zygomorphic.)
Easily the most familiar of this group and easy to grow as well. Plant in masses in sun to partial shade and prepare to be blown away by their beauty.
Butterflies love this North American native, and you will too. Easy to grow, Liatris has grass-like foliage and produces fuzzy, bottle-brush blooms. And they’re pest, disease, and deer resistant.
This white-flowered groundcover has been popular for decades, and with good reason. It’s easy to grow, spreads slowly, and puts on quite a show of nodding, bell-shaped flowers that smell great. Grow in full to partial shade.
Better known as Tuberose, these annuals thrive in full sun and produce waxy white, funnel-shaped flowers that are intensely fragrant, making the a perfect choice for a container on the patio.
Better known as Japanese Toad Lily, this is one of my favorite plants for shade, especially if the area retains moisture. The flowers are stunning, and they appear in late summer through fall. Easy to grow, hardy, and may actually reseed, though not to the point of being invasive.