Photo by Bryn Wallace

Plant Now: Summer Blooming Bulbs

If you love the massive showy blooms of dahlias and lilies or the colorful foliage of caladiums, now is the time to start planting! After the final frost, it’s time to put these summer blooming bulbs into the ground for blooms later in the season. We’ve got a guide here to the most colorful, show stopping bulbs you can plant now for a big show this summer.

Plant in the Sun

Any portion of your garden that received 6 hours or more each day is in full sun. Our summer blooming bulbs that grow in full sun tend to feature the most spectacular blooms of all, with dahlias and lilies in particular being show stoppers.


These heat loving plants give a serious tropical vibe, with vivid blooms in red, yellow or orange atop large stalks of banana like foliage. When planting these, be aware of the variety you have selected as many of them can grow very tall (Think over 6 ft.). There are dwarf varieties available for anyone who wants to plant canna in their container gardens.


These flowers range from in size from cute 2 inch blooms to the well-known “dinner plate” varieties that can reach 15 inches across. They generally grow to about 4 ft. in height, so be sure to plant them accordingly in locations where they will not overshadow your smaller plants. You can choose from just about any color under the sun, in addition to a wide range of bloom sizes. Opt for smaller varieties if you are planning to grow in containers, as they need enough growing space to support their weight in full bloom.


These flowers grow in tall spikes in just about every color imaginable. Select your favorite variety, or several, and plant in a sunny spot! You can plant them successively over several to keep the flowers going longer. These look best grown in masses to better support each other and show more spectacular color, so plant in groups. Make sure the soil you plant them in has good drainage.

Tolerates Part Sun

If you have between 4-6 hours of sun in your garden, or dappled light throughout portions of the day, your garden is in part sun. These conditions may not lend themselves to the largest blooming bulbs, but there are still plenty of options that can tolerate these lower light conditions.


There are many varieties of lilies to choose from, but Asiatic and Oriental lilies are the most showy. If you are looking for the classic lily scent, opt for Oriental lilies as the Asiatic are unscented. Lilies will perform best in full sun, but they generally are tolerant of part sun or dappled light, particularly in the afternoons when the sun is hottest. Be sure to check on different varieties to decide which is best for the location where you will be planting.

Calla Lilies

These South African plants prefer full sun, but will tolerate part sun conditions. While most are familiar with the classic white often used at Easter and in weddings, these flowers also bloom in pinks, maroon and even orange. Some have speckled foliage. Make sure that these plants are kept in well draining soil.

Plant in the Shade

In gardening terms, shade is classified as less than 4 hours per day of sun. You will want to look at the bulbs below if you are working with these conditions. Most of our shade tolerant bulbs are grown for their gorgeous foliage, but don’t worry! These plants still come in vibrant colors and can lend a lush tropical look to your garden. If you want blooms, tuberous begonias are a great choice and perform best in shade conditions.

Tuberous Begonia

Most people probably think of begonias as the small red, pink and white wax begonias that are popularly grown in shaded garden beds. However, there are far more varieties to choose from than just those, and tuberous begonias in particular feature very showy flowers! These plants have a long blooming period and come in a wide variety of colors – most commonly in red, white and pink but also in orange and yellow.


These plants are grown for their colorful foliage and do not want any direct sun, making them an excellent choice for those who want colorful plants but lack the sun required for some of the more showy flowers listed above. Large leaves are splashed with varying combinations of green, white, pink and red. They are low growing, maxing out at 2 ft. in height, making them perfect for use in containers.

Colocasia (Elephant Ears)

If you want to go for a lush, tropical look, this is the best possible bulb to add to your garden this summer. The oversized leaves are what give this plant its common name, “Elephant Ears”, and foliage can range from large to very, very large. Leave these plants plenty of space when planting – check the variety for planting distance.