Top tips for sum­mer-flow­er­ing bulbs

Lilies, dahlias, can­nas and be­go­nias are all com­ing into their own now. Ex­perts share some ad­vice for look­ing after them

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - East Kent Property - - OUTDOORS -

Your sum­mer-flow­er­ing bulbs should be well on the way to bloom­ing now, bring­ing a riot of colour to the gar­den and adding fra­grance and form to pa­tio plant­ing.

Lilies, dahlias, can­nas and be­go­nias can look amaz­ing as stand-alone spec­i­mens in pots, while some can be suc­cess­fully com­bined with other gar­den plants. Most sum­mer bulbs are sun-lovers and ideal for pa­tio pots.

Ex­perts from the Flower Coun­cil of Hol­land, have come up with tips to look after some of their favourite bulbs: the Zant­edeschia, hy­brid pot­ted lilies and the star of Beth­le­hem.

Place in sun or shade. The tem­per­a­ture does need to re­main above at least 5-8 de­grees C, but that won’t pose a prob­lem in the sum­mer.

Don’t let the soil dry out. Wa­ter reg­u­larly, par­tic­u­larly when the plants are placed in pots or con­tain­ers. The bulbs and tu­bers will sur­vive through a slightly drier pe­riod, which is handy when you go on hol­i­day for a week.

Feed them once a fort­night to en­sure lav­ish flow­er­ing.

Bring sum­mer-flow­er­ing pot­ted bulbs in­doors after flow­er­ing, in Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber, to give them a hi­ber­na­tion pe­riod dur­ing which the plant re­mains dry and the fo­liage dies back. The bulbs and tu­bers will then pro­duce plenty of new flow­ers dur­ing the next grow­ing sea­son. You can plant them out­side again from April on­wards.

Tuber­ous be­go­nias like to be shel­tered from wind, in par­tial shade, as the fo­liage can scorch in bright sun­light. They’ll also need to be fed reg­u­larly with a high-potash fer­tiliser. And make sure you dead­head them as they fade, to keep the plant go­ing.

If you want them to last through to the next sea­son, store them in a frost­free place over win­ter. Once they’ve fin­ished flow­er­ing, grad­u­ally stop wa­ter­ing them and they will die down. Cut stems down and lay the pots on their sides in a cool airy place, or take the tu­bers out and store them in dry com­post un­til spring, when they should come back to life again.

Plant dahlias in late spring out­side in John Innes No. 3 com­post in con­tain­ers at least 30cm in di­am­e­ter. En­cour­age bushy growth by pinch­ing the tops out when the shoots reach 10-12cm, and dead­head as they fade to en­cour­age a long suc­ces­sion of flow­ers. Dahlias will be knocked back by the first frost, so once the top growth has gone, you can re­move tu­bers from the pots, dry them and store them in a frost-free place un­til spring.

Lilies in pots, planted in spring. Many will be ready to flower in July and ben­e­fit from an oc­ca­sional liq­uid feed with a high-potash fer­tiliser. Once blooms have faded, cut them off, but leave the stems and con­tinue to wa­ter and feed to build up the bulbs’ strength for next year. The stems will die back nat­u­rally in late sum­mer or au­tumn, and the bulbs can be left in the same pots for a few years. Then, re­plant them in fresh com­post or in the bor­der.

Pictures: PA Photo/think­stock­pho­tos; PA Photo/the­joy­of­

Sum­mer-flow­er­ing bulbs such as canna lilies and be­go­nias can look amaz­ing in pots on their own or com­bined with other gar­den plants

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