When summer temperatures get hot, most annuals and perennials slow their growth and reduce flower production to conserve energy. This is good for the plants, but fewer flowers is not so good if you want a colorful late summer garden.
The best way to keep your flower garden blooming during this slow down is to grow plants that thrive in heat and humidity. Summer-blooming bulbs are heat lovers that come on strong as temperatures rise and most of them continue looking fabulous right through the fall.
Summer bulbs also grow well in containers, and this makes it easy to introduce a splash of late summer color wherever it's needed most -- near your entryway, around your porch or patio, or right in a flower bed.
Solo Performers and Outstanding Combinations
Summer bulbs have style and color to spare, so they can easily hold their own in a pot or planter. Growing these bulbs in their own containers also has some advantages:
- it's easier to appreciate each plant's unique form
- there's no competition for light, water or nutrients
- you can move pots around to create new combinations on the fly
Another approach is to combine two different types of summer bulbs or to mix summer bulbs with annuals and perennials. Just keep in mind that canna lilies, elephant ears, and full-size dahlias can quickly overpower their neighbors. Here are some of our favorite ways to use summer bulbs in containers.
Pairing Two Types of Summer Bulbs
- Cannas with sun tolerant caladiums
- Elephant ears with sun tolerant caladiums
- Cannas with dahlias
- Eucomis with sun tolerant caladiums
- Lilies with sun tolerant caladiums
Pairing Bulbs and Annuals
- Dahlias with fountain grass and calibrachoa
- Elephant ears with verbena and sweet potato vine
- Dahlias with coleus and petunias
- Lilies with coleus and salvia
- Cannas with lantana and creeping jenny
- Acidanthera with Persian shield and dusty miller
- Elephant ears with croton and creeping jenny
TIP: Summer bulbs are at their best in late summer and early fall. For early season color, fill the pots with cool weather annuals such as calendula, nemesia, stock, pansies, snapdragons, and sweet alyssum. As the summer bulbs grow, they will gradually fill out and take center stage.