Summer Bulbs: Planting and Care Tips

Summer bulbs are the show-offs of the garden. They're big, they're bright, they're colorful, some are even a little bit loud—and that's what we love about them!

summer bulb bouquet

Summer bulbs make beautiful cut flowers. Grow a few for your vases as well as your garden.

Each year, MSHS sells summer bulbs during the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show, which begins in two weeks. We're often asked whether people can really buy their bulbs in late February for the summer growing season -- and the answer is yes! Just stash the bulbs in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator until the soil is workable and well-drained. It doesn't have to be super warm out either. Then plant them and wait for the long days of summer when bulbs steal the show. The advantage of the buying the bulbs at the show is the prices are incredible and you get a tiny taste of spring in late winter.

Which Bulbs are Summer Bulbs?

The bulbs we consider summer bloomers are planted in spring rather than fall. They bloom in summer and include hardy bulbs like lilies as well as dahlias, calla lilies, gladiolus and other summer bloomers for the garden and the vase. Hardy bulbs can be left in the ground over the winter to bloom again next year. Tender bulbs such as dahlias, and must be pulled in the fall and stored indoors over winter.

Care and Design

Summer bulbs are great for growing in the ground or in a container. If you have lots of critters in your yard, as I do, containers are the safer choice for planting bulbs. Bunnies, gophers and other garden thugs love the taste of tender bulb foliage or the bulbs themselves. Plant your bulbs in early spring in an area with full sun -- six hours or more -- in well-drained soil. Bulbs may rot if planted in a wet spot so consider drainage carefully. In containers, use a good potting mix to promote adequate drainage. Bulbs do need moisture to grow those big blooms, so ensure they receive adequate watering if the weather is hot or dry.

lily bubls

Groups of lilies are striking in a garden bed.

Bulbs look stunning when planted in groups -- their color and dramatic shape really shows in a large group. Having lots of them together also makes the fragrance more noticeable. For really tall bulbs, you may need ton add staking or other supports to keep them up. For big blooms and healthy foliage, fertilize bulbs lightly throughout the summer or plant them with a good slow-release fertilizer.

In addition to bulbs and tubers, MSHS will be selling bare-roots of a variety of perennials including hosta, astilbe, daylilies and many more. Please stop by our booths (1619 and 1613) on the show floor to see the selection.





  1. […] Sometimes we get asked whether it is a good idea to buy bulbs in late winter for spring planting — the short answer is yes! Just store the bulbs in your refrigerator until the ground is thawed and somewhat dry and plant them out. You’ll be enjoying lilies before you know it. Check out some care tips here. […]

  2. […] be worked. Given how delicate bulb flowers look, you may think they need a lot of babying. Nope. Summer bulbs, such as lilies and gladiolus, can be planted as soon as the ground is thawed and reasonably […]

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