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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Garden Tip

Keywords: Schizostylis, Nerine, Eucomis, Crinum, South African plants, Bulbs

For some people the bulb season starts with planting in the fall and ends with the late tulips of May. In fact, gardeners can have flower bulbs throughout summer and into fall. The most common and well loved summer bulbs are ornamental onions, lilies and dahlias, but there are so many more to try. A few of the lesser known summer bulbs include harlequin flower (Sparaxis tricolor), African corn lily (Ixia), and Mexican shell flower (Tigridia pavonia).
Summer bulbs are available to plant in spring. While many are hardy in our mild climate, new bulbs shouldn't be planted until the danger of hard frost has passed. In other words, May is the time to plant summer flowering bulbs.

A good little primer on these plants is called Summer-Blooming Bulbs, edited by Beth Hansen (Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, 9.95). Chapter topics include botany, care, design and a mini-encyclopedia. Contributing authors Brent and Becky Heath, owners of the top American bulb nursery (Brent and Becky's Bulbs), suggest a few summer bulbs that will come back every year without lifting in Pacific Northwest gardens:

  • Crinum lily (Crinum 'Bradley')
  • Pineapple lily (Eucomis autumnalis)
  • Guernsey lily (Nerine bowdenii)
  • Crimson flag (Schizostylis coccinea)
A great majority of summer blooming bulbs (and other swollen-root plants) come from the Cape Province of South Africa. To learn more about these wonderful flowers invest in the Color Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs by Manning, Goldblatt and Snijman (Timber, $59.95).

Date: 2007-04-03
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May 31 2018 13:14:08