Bulbs can be planted in the fall, spring or summer using these tips according to the specific variety of plant and flower to be produced. Summer bulbs are usually tropical and cannot withstand cold winter temperatures. These bulbs often provide very colorful blooms, but must be dug up and carefully stored through the winter to be replanted the following spring. An example is a gladiola. Regardless of the type of bulb the most important aspect is properly preparing the soil. Placement is also vital, as summer bulbs may prefer full sun or partial shade. With the correct location, a PH balance between 6 and 7 as well as the addition of phosphorus and organics a bulb will produce beautiful flowers for many years.
Summer bulbs have a variety of planting depths so review the information provided with the bulbs to determine the depth of soil preparation needed. Choose a location that provides either full sun or partial shade, as indicated by the type of bulb being grown. Dig out the soil to a depth four inches deeper than the planting depth indicated on the packaging of the bulb. If no packaging is provided dig a hole that is two or three times as deep as the bulb is long. For example gladiolas are planted to a depth of 8 inches so the hole should be 12 inches deep. Test the soil for PH before preparation to determine what may need to be added.
Prepare the soil for planting the bulbs by adding lime and compost to the existing soil as needed. If the PH needs to be adjusted add lime. If the soil has a lot of clay work in some organic material such as compost. Divide this new mixed soil into two halves. In the first portion mix one part bonemeal or superphosphate with two parts of the soil mixture previously created. Spread this half of the mixture in the hole. This will provide phosphorus for the roots of the bulbs that are planted. Save the remaining soil to cover the bulbs when they are planted.
Place the bulbs where desired in the planting bed. If planting a variety of bulbs together add dirt as needed to bring the bulb to the correct depth before covering with the remaining prepared soil. Water the ground thoroughly after planting. The water must reach the deepest bulbs so use a soaker hose. Summer bulbs will require regular watering through the hot summer months to keep them alive.
Summer bulbs need regular fertilizing through the growing season to keep them strong. Fertilize monthly with 10-10-10 soluble fertilizers or a bulb fertilizer. Apply approximately two tablespoons of fertilizer each month to cover each 10 square foot area. As the plant grows it may need to be staked to hold it upright. Some bulbs will produce stalks several feet tall. To avoid damage to the bulb, drive the stakes into the ground when the bulb is planted. As the stalk grows and needs help it can be tied to the existing stake without damaging the bloom or the bulb.
Most summer bulbs cannot survive a winter in the ground. The freezing temperatures will kill the plant. Dig up these bulbs when the leaves turn yellow and fall off. Do not wait until the ground freezes. Use a spade to carefully lift the bulbs out of the ground and store in a cool dry place through the winter. Replant the bulbs in the spring.
Whichever type of summer bulbs you choose to plant, your garden will benefit from the resulting beautiful flowers.