Even More Summer Bulbs
It's never too soon to be thinking about summer blooming hardy bulbs. Those in this article bloom from mid-June through August and early September.
I've mentioned several Allium
in my previous articles but there are several more worth using. There are two relatively small yellow ones that make quite a splash in the landscape. Allium moly
(Golden Garlic) is only ten inches high, has dense umbels of bright yellow flowers, and naturalizes rapidly. I've planted mine in between clumps of Stachys monieri
that won't bloom until July. The cultivar 'Jeannine' sports two flower spikes per bulb instead of the typical one and flowers a few weeks earlier than the species - meaning early June rather than mid-June. Both grow in full sun to part shade in zones 3 to 8.
The other yellow Allium
is A. flavum
(Small Yellow Onion). Similar in height and cultural needs, it will not bloom until mid-July or early August. This Allium
has a more vertical umbel but is also a naturalizer and is hardy in zones 4 to 8.
Similar in appearance but pale purple rather than yellow is another prolific naturalizer, Allium carinatum var.pulchellum
(Keeled Garlic). Although the catalogs say that it grows twenty to twenty-four inches high, in my garden, it only grows eighteen inches high. It blooms in full sun from mid-July to mid-August and is hardy in zones 5 to 8. I planted mine near Hydrangea
'Endless Summer' and 'Jogasaki', but it has since spread across the bed to a Picea glauca
and acts as a color echo of Origanum
'Herrenhausen'. Thus, in mid-summer, this bed is full of serene pastels while other parts of the garden are bright and bold.
The last Allium
to bloom is Allium tuberosum
(Garlic Chives) which makes its appearance in early September. This one grows twelve to eighteen inches high and is also a prolific naturalizer. Its black seedheads look beautiful in late fall and winter but I highly recommend cutting them down before the seeds disperse if you want to curb their spread. Mine have seeded into the joints between my concrete driveway and low stone wall, providing a green border during the summer. In that bed, the Allium
are a companion to Siberian Iris, Miscanthus
, and Sedum
is the other genus that offers color from June to August. Asiatic lilies are the first group to bloom. In mid-June, wide, six-petaled flowers, on two to three foot stems, brighten the landscape with a wide range of colors. Hardy in zones 3 to 9, they like full sun or light shade and look best in groups. Happily, they are relatively inexpensive. One word of advice that pertains to all lily groups and species. Although the flowers are gorgeous and fragrant, the stalks add nothing; therefore, I suggest planting lilies behind other perennials or shrubs that will hide the stalks.Lilium longiflorum
/Asiatic hybrids are similar but a bit stronger and they, too, are available in a wide range of colors. I find that they also perennialize slowly. These are hardy in zones 5 to 9.
Personally, I prefer the species lilies that are frequently referred to as Turks Cap or Turban Lily. The petals are recurved and the overall flowers are smaller than those of the Asiatics, Orientals, and Trumpets, but they also look more delicate and natural. One of my favorites is Lilium martagon
which has very distinctive foliage; it looks like a skirt several inches below the flowers. The flowers of the species are pink but there are also white and apricot cultivars. This lily prefers part shade, grows four to six feet tall, and is hardy in zones 3 to 8. It also blooms in mid-June.
Oriental lilies like 'Casa Blanca', a familiar white cultivar, bloom in late June and July on three to four foot stems. Also available in a wide range of colors, the flowers are similar to those of the Asiatics but larger and even more fragrant; the petals are slightly recurved. These lilies are hardy in zones 4 to 9.
Hardy in zones 3 to 9, Lilium henryi
is another Turkscap Lily but this one has bright orange, blackly speckled flowers. Like the Martagons, its flowers are very recurved but there are fewer on a stalk. They bloom in July and grow three to four feet tall. If not grown in full sun, they will lean toward the sun and eventually flop. Frankly, lilies do not look wonderful when they are staked.
The Oriental/Trumpet hybrids are fragrant, hardy in zones 4 to 8, and strong perennializers. Derek Fell, a well-known designer and trialer of plants, says that 'Scheherazade' was the best lily at his farm. He set an extraordinary number of flowers per stem and plants were so vigorous they doubled in quantity each season. In addition, the stems were long enough for cutting without depleting the plant of energy. These lilies are very tall (six to seven feet) and bloom in late July and August.
The latest blooming lily and the tallest (six to ten feet) I have grown is Lilium formosanum
. It is planted behind Rudbeckia
'Cherry Brandy' and Amsonia
'Halfway to Arkansas'. Hardy in zones 3 to 9, its pure white flowers make their appearance in late August.
It may be too late to order these bulbs for spring, but perhaps these suggestions will encourage you to look for spots where they could be planted in the fall.Bobbie Schwartz, FAPLD, owner of Bobbie's Green Thumb in Shaker Heights., Ohio, is a landscape designer, consultant, free-lance writer, and lecturer whose specialties are perennial gardens and four-season landscapes. She is an active member of the Perennial Plant Association (PPA). Bobbie is a Past President of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), and currently serves as chair of the ONLA Plant Selection Committee. Bobbie can be reached at (216) 752-9449.