If you’ve been to a tropical place, you’ve likely seen plants that made you say, “I wish I could grow that.” Like many of you, I’ve had the same experience while enjoying tropical plants. However, many tropical plants can be grown here in the summer, and with a little extra care, you can overwinter them indoors. Summer bulbs deliver the excitement of the tropics to gardeners in warm and cool climates. They come in numerous sizes, shapes, and colors, making them useful in nearly any location. It’s important to remember some hardy bulbs also flower in summer. But today, we’ll focus on summer-blooming tropical bulbs.
Popular Summer Bulbs
I’ve had the pleasure of growing canna lilies many times in my career, and they are truly stunning. You can buy them as bulbs or starter plants in spring, but either way, they’ll become massive by late summer. These are grown for their showy foliage and flowers and will typically rebloom throughout the summer. Cannas are excellent plants for large containers or in the ground.
Phasion Canna – The foliage sets this canna apart with red, yellow, and pink stripes. As a bonus, it provides vibrant orange flowers in mid-summer.
Red Futurity Canna – This canna features dark burgundy foliage, which gives way to dark red flowers. It matures at 36-42″ tall, making it an excellent choice for small spaces.
Yellow King Humbert Canna – The flowers on this canna are stunning, with bright shades of yellow that contrast beautifully with the bronze-green foliage.
There’s a Dahlia for everyone, from dwarf varieties with small flowers to massive plants with blooms the size of dinner plates. These are ideal bulbs for pots or in the ground, and the flower color variety is stunning. I won’t be able to highlight all of Jung’s Dahlias, but I’ll share a few. To see each type Jung offers, you can visit their website or check out their catalog.
Bishop of Llandaff Dahlia – Features intense red blooms and purple foliage to create a wonderful contrast.
Dazzling Magic Deluxe Dahlia – An impressive variety with dinner plate blooms that come in shades of dark red-orange. No two blooms are alike, making each flower unique.
Santa Claus Dahlia – Named for its eye-catching red and white blooms that resemble pinwheels. Giant blooms are 6 to 8 inches.
These bulbs are known for their impressive floral displays in the garden and cut floral arrangements. Many years ago, my mom planted Gladiolus on the south side of our house in Wisconsin. Every year, they come back and flower without us digging them up. It’s a fun story I enjoy sharing, but you should plan on storing them indoors for winter. These members of the Iris family come in many colors, with large blooms that stand tall on spikes. Consider growing them in cutting gardens or anywhere you’d like a pop of color.
Green Acres Gladiolus – Boasts unusual blooms that stay green. Looks fantastic when mixed with other gladiolus colors.
Jung Premium Gladiolus – A great choice if you want various colors. The flowers can be used independently or mixed with other flowers in floral arrangements.
Sun Kissed Exhibition Glad – The bright orange blooms reinforce the tropical look of this variety. It looks stunning with other warm-colored flowers, like red, orange, and yellow.
These bulbs have lush foliage and uniquely shaped blooms. They are often grown for cut flowers and perform beautifully in containers. Most Callas grow 1 to 2’ tall, making them versatile and easy to grow in small areas. Like other summer bulbs, Callas come in many colors, making them easy to pair with other plants. They do best in full sun but thrive in part shade too.
Mixed Callas – These feature an assortment of colors, with shades of lavender, white, pink, and more. If that’s not enough, the foliage has charming white spots.
The Begonia genus has over 2,000 species, making it one of the largest plant groups in the world. If you’re looking for variety, begonias have you covered. Begonias are wonderful plants for any amount of light, and the blooms/foliage come in many forms. You can grow dwarf plants for mixed containers or large plants to fill a massive container. The opportunities are unlimited!
On Top® Sunset Shades Begonia – Here’s a new variety with blooms in several warm colors, including yellow, orange, red, and more. It features a mounding, compact habit and is highly floriferous. At 12-14″, it’s right at home in containers.
Pink Ballerina Begonia – Named after the gorgeous pink blooms that feature ruffled and fringed edges. The impressive flowers are 6 to 9 inches—an excellent plant for mixed containers.
Skaugum Begonia – This large begonia has fiery orange-red flowers and a mounded habit. An outstanding choice for large containers or hanging baskets. This plant was bred in Norway and is named after the castle where the King of Norway resides.
Storing Summer Bulbs
As summer winds down, these bulbs can be dug up and stored indoors for next year. Begonias are very tender and should be dug up at the first hint of cool weather in fall. You should dig up dahlias, calla lilies, gladiolus, and cannas just before the first frost. To encourage dormancy, withhold water until the stems and leaves turn yellow.
Once the bulbs are brought inside, place them in a warm location for several weeks, allowing them to dry. You can also cut back the stems during this time, leaving only a couple of inches on the stalk. After the bulbs have dried, place them in a cool location, like a basement or storage room. Temperatures of 45-50°F are ideal. The bulbs should be placed in a light material, such as peat moss or shredded paper, to protect the bulbs. They can be removed from storage and planted after the last frost in spring.
Whether gardening on a large property or a small patio, summer bulbs bring an exotic flair to the landscape. As spring continues, look for ways to incorporate these stunning flowers into your summer plans.
Other Recommended Reading
- Garden Trends: Color of the Year 2023
- 7 Growing Tips For Begonias
- An Easy Guide To Growing Amaryllis
- Fall Bulb Planting Tips
- An Easy Guide To Forcing Bulbs
- 6 Tips For Storing Bulbs During Winter
At Jung Seed Co, we strive to be your go-to guide for all your gardening needs. Our YouTube channel The Garden Doctor by Dick Zondag is where he provides gardening tips for all levels of gardeners. When you need reliable gardening advice, turn to the trusted experts at Jung.
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About the Author: Matthew Olson is a professional horticulturist and garden writer. He has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from UW-River Falls and is a certified professional with the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association. His enthusiasm for plants and the outdoors brought him to the green industry. He regularly writes articles about gardening for both gardeners and industry professionals. He can be reached at email@example.com.