Why Buy Summer Bulbs Now?

Each year, MSHS sells lily bulbs, hosta and dahlia tubers and other summer-blooming plants at the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show. The show opens Wednesday and the bulbs and tubers will be in Room 103, outside of the main home show floor, along with the Garden Theater, where MSHS brings in expert speakers on everything from growing mushrooms to maximizing your vegetable harvest.

Casa Blanca lily

Casa Blanca lily has a striking white bloom.

The first time I bought summer bulbs at the show, I thought it was odd to be buying them in the winter. The prices were exceptional, however, and the gardeners on duty told me this was a great time to buy them because they should be planted relatively early in the spring and the bulbs are packed with a medium that keeps them from drying out. Per instructions from the  experts, I stored the bulbs in the vegetable bin of my refrigerator until spring. Once the ground was thawed and dried out, I planted the bulbs in an area that gets about six hours of sun a day (even more would be better), with soil that drains easily. If you have a spot where puddles form, don’t plant lilies there — they will rot. In a few weeks, the green foliage of the plant was peaking out of the ground and by early July, it was in full, glorious, fragrant bloom.

toronto lily small

‘Toronto’ lily blooms profusely.

Lilies are not tough to grow. The bulbs can stay in the ground outside through the winter, they last many years and even spread a bit as they get established. If you select several types of lilies with different bloom times, you can get weeks of color. The University of Minnesota Extension Service has a great fact sheet on lilies. If you want to learn more about lilies, check out the North Star Lily Society for classes, shows and other information.

—Mary Lahr Schier

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