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                                       SUMMER FLOWERING BULBS IN THE HOME LANDSCAPE

The addition of summer flowering bulbs to the home landscape adds not only beauty but interest. These plants have a particular form as well as brilliant, clear colors. They are easy to grow and can be saved and planted year after year. They can be planted directly in beds or may be grown in containers. A wide choice is possible in the kinds of summer bulbs available.

Tuberous begonias:  

available in beautiful red, pink, orange, salmon, yellow or white flowers attaining a size of 12 to 14 inches in diameter. The tubers can be planted in flats or pots in March or April to get a faster start, or they can be planted directly in the garden about mid-May.

If starting them early, use shallow flats or pots that have been filled with coarse peat moss. Press the tuber into the peat moss 3 to 4 inches apart with the concave side up. Place the flats or pots in a dark room such as the basement at 65 deg. to 70 deg.F. As the pink shoots start to develop, add more peat moss so it covers the tubers and move them to a sunny window. Keep the peat moss moist, but do not overwater the tubers as they rot easily. Fertilize the young plants with a liquid fertilizer every two weeks according to the rate on the container.

About the middle of May, plants as well as unsprouted tubers can be planted in the garden. Select an area that is well drained and partially shaded. Set the tubers in the ground so they are just covered and no deeper as they are subject to rotting. To allow for plenty of growing space and air circulation, set the tubers or plants 18 to 24 inches apart. It may be necessary to stake the young plants as many of the larger growing cultivars (varieties) become top heavy bloom.

Apply a fertilizer such as 4-16-16, 5-10-5, 5-10-10 or 5-20.20 at the rate of 3 to 4 pounds per 100 square feet at monthly intervals. Water when the soil starts to dry, preferably in the morning or early afternoon. This allows the foliage and flowers to dry before nightfall and reduces chances of disease.

After the frost has killed the foliage, the tubers must be dug, the foliage removed and tubers dried for a few days. Store in peat moss or sawdust in boxes or other containers but not plastic bags. Place in a storage space that is dry and where the temperature is maintained around 50 F. Do not allow the tubers to freeze.

Canna: commonly used years ago where a tall plant with bright red color was needed. This plant had luxurious green foliage to support the flower. The plant seemed to diminish in popularity but has begun a revival due to new cultivars that offer not only red flowers but pink, orange, yellow and cream. Some even have red or bronze foliage. Some cultivars are tall, reaching a height of 7 to 8 feet, while others are a maximum of 18 inches.

The rhizomes (underground stems) may be started early, such as with begonias, or they can be planted directly in the garden. Usually they are planted directly in the garden about the middle of May. Select a spot that is well drained and receives full sunlight. The rhizomes should be planted a couple of inches below the surface and 18 to 24 inches apart. Water thoroughly after planting and begin fertilizing as soon as the shoots come through the ground. Use a dry complete fertilizer such as 4-16-16, 5-10-5, 5-10-10 or 5-20-20 at the rate of 3 to 4 pounds per 100 square feet. Apply once a month during the growing season and water thoroughly after application. Water the plants when the soil begins to dry and stake if necessary.

Once the foliage has been killed by frost, the dead tops should be removed and the rhizomes dug. Be careful not to damage them. Remove the soil and let the rhizomes lie on the garage or basement floor for a few days to dry. Then store them in dry peat moss or sawdust in boxes, bushel baskets or gunny sacks. Select a spot in the basement or where they will be dry and can be kept at 45 to 50 F. Do not allow them to freeze.

Gladiolus: grown for their magnificent flowers, which come in all colors. There are large flower types as well as small. They can be used as background plants in the garden or as cut flowers for inside the home. If care is given to a planting schedule, flowers can be available from early summer until frost. Therefore, it is advisable to separate the corms into various planting dates so flowering can be spread out.

The first corms can be planted as early as May 1. Set the corms 4 to 5 inches deep and 5 to 6 inches apart. If they are grown in rows, allow 36 inches between the rows. In two wee%s, plant the next group of corms and continue this procedure until the last of July. By so planting, flowers will be available almost anytime during the summer. As soon as the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall, apply a complete dry fertilizer such as 4-16-16, 5-10-5, 5-10-10 or 5-20-20 at the rate of 3 to 4 pounds per 100 square feet. This is the only fertilizer that will be needed during the growing season. Water the plants thoroughly when the soil starts to get dry.

After the foliage has dried in late summer or autumn, dig the corms, remove the soil and snap off the dead tops. The old corm or "mummy"may also be removed at this time if still present. Spread the corms out on the garage or basement floor and allow to dry for three or four days. Place the corms in boxes with dry peat moss or sawdust. If a large number of corms are involved, make some boxes that are 3 to 4 inches deep with bottoms made of hardware cloth. Store the corms in a dry, cool place at a temperature of 35 to 40"F. Check them periodically during the winter for signs of rotting or rodents.

Prepared by: James L. Caldwell

Extension Horticulturist
The Ohio State University
/data/webs/external/dokuwiki/data/pages/archive/fun/bulbs.txt · Last modified: 1999/09/29 14:03 (external edit)