Twelve Stunning Bulbs to Plant in Spring for a Spectacular Summer Garden

Add a touch of drama and vibrant colors to your flower beds and patio containers with a stunning selection of summer blooming bulbs. While some of these bulbs require a bit more care than their spring counterparts, their beauty and impact on your garden are well worth the effort. Let’s explore twelve showstopping bulbs that will bring your summer garden to life.

1. Gladiola – The Towering Beauty

Gladiolas, also known as sword lilies, are perfect for adding height and elegance to your garden. These upright plants can reach a height of 2 to 5 feet, adorned with stunning blooms ranging from 3 to 5 inches in size. From delicate pastels to deep purples and burgundy, these colorful flowers will create a magnificent display. Plant gladiola corms in well-draining soil and enjoy their beauty throughout the summer.


2. Dahlia – Nature’s Masterpiece

Dahlias offer an extensive range of shapes, sizes, and vibrant colors. From giant 15-inch “dinner plate” blooms to dainty 2-inch “lollipop” pompoms, these flowers are a true work of art. Arriving in midsummer and lasting until the first frost, dahlias provide a stunning display in any garden. Plant dahlia tubers in warm soil and enjoy a spectacular show of colors and textures.

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3. Freesia – Fragrant Delight

Freesias are beloved for their intense and sweet fragrance. These elegant flowers grow 12 to 24 inches tall, featuring arching stems adorned with trumpet-shaped blooms that face upward. With a wide range of jewel-tone colors, including scarlet, lavender, yellow, and orange, freesias create a vibrant and fragrant centerpiece in your garden. Plant them in full sun and well-draining soil for a stunning show.


4. Lily – Majestic and Fragrant

Lilies come in various types, each with its own unique beauty. From the Asiatic lilies with their vivid colors to the Oriental lilies that bloom later and offer a fragrant surprise, these flowers are a classic addition to any garden. Lilies prefer to have their “head in the sun, their feet in the shade,” and thrive in well-draining soil. Embrace their majestic presence and enjoy their captivating fragrance.


5. Canna – Tropical Beauty

Cannas, also known as Canna lilies, are striking, tropical-looking plants that can reach heights of 8 feet or more. Their lily-shaped flowers in shades of red, orange, and yellow attract pollinators and create a stunning screen in your yard or garden. These rhizomes thrive in full sun and well-draining soil, making them a perfect choice for high summer heat. Plant them in spring and enjoy their bold beauty until the first frost.


6. Elephant Ear – Garden Statement

Make a bold statement with Elephant Ears, known for their massive foliage size. These garden giants, available as bulbs, corms, or tubers, feature leaves up to 3 feet long and 2 feet wide. Whether used as a backdrop or as a focal point, the Elephant Ear demands attention. Plant them in partial shade or full sun, depending on the species, and watch your garden transform into a lush paradise.

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Elephant Ear

7. Begonia – Brighten Shaded Areas

Brighten up shady areas of your garden with cheerful begonias. With over 2,000 species to choose from, there’s a begonia for every garden. Whether cascading or upright, these compact plants produce large flowers in shades of red, pink, coral, yellow, and orange. Plant begonia tubers in well-draining soil, and they will reward you with a vibrant display that lasts until frost.


8. Caladium – Colorful Foliage

Who needs flowers when you have the stunning foliage of Caladium? These plants grow 18 to 24 inches tall, showcasing a dazzling blend of green, white, pink, and red on their large heart-shaped or lance-shaped leaves. Perfect for shady or semi-shady gardens, Caladium tubers burst with vibrant colors. Plant them in spring and savor their beauty until the first frost.


9. Crocosmia – Fiery Beauty

Crocosmia adds a touch of fiery beauty to your garden with its sprays of small trumpet-shaped flowers in vibrant scarlet, red, orange, and yellow. These flowers bloom for 5 to 8 weeks, starting in mid- to late summer, creating a stunning backdrop for smaller plants. Crocosmia thrives in full sun, although semi-shade can benefit them in hot regions. Adored by pollinators and resistant to deer, these versatile bulbs are a fantastic addition to any garden.


10. Naked Lady – The Surprise Lily

Add an element of surprise to your garden with the Naked Lady, also known as Surprise Lily or Jersey Lily. These unique flowers make their appearance in mid-August, with stalks reaching heights of 2 to 3 feet. Beautiful pale pink lily-shaped flowers emerge without any foliage, creating an enchanting sight. Plant them in full sun with well-draining soil and witness the delightful surprise they bring to your garden each summer.

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Naked Lady

11. Calla Lily – Timeless Elegance

The elegant calla lily is a favorite for bridal bouquets, thanks to its classic creamy white blooms. However, these beauties also come in a range of colors, including yellow, pink, lavender, and dark maroon. With sword-shaped foliage featuring white spots, the calla lily adds interest to any garden. Plant the rhizomes in well-drained soil, and they will reward you with their timeless beauty from midsummer to early fall.

Calla Lily

12. Liatris – Wispy Beauty

Liatris, also known as Blazing Star or Gayfeather, adds a touch of grace to your garden with its tall lavender-headed stalks. These bottlebrush-shaped flower heads produce tiny star-like blossoms, creating a wispy and enchanting backdrop for smaller plants. With their preference for well-draining soil and full sun, liatris corms are a versatile addition to both cottage and rock gardens.


Planting these twelve stunning bulbs in spring will ensure a breathtaking summer display in your garden. Remember to provide the right growing conditions and care for each specific bulb, and you’ll be rewarded with a colorful and vibrant outdoor oasis.

For more information and to explore an incredible variety of bulbs, visit the Ames Farm Center.

Prices and availability of bulbs are subject to change. Please check with the respective sellers for the latest details.