On The Garden Path: Bulbs

Plant bulbs in spring for beautiful summer blooms

| March 2008

Flowers are on everyone’s mind this time of year, as winter wanes and spring approaches. Gardeners are on the countdown now, ready to push past the last probable date of frost, so they can get their hands in the dirt.

Here are three intriguing summer bulbs to consider using in your garden this year.

Pineapple Lilies 

With their 15-inch spire of tiny, greenish-white or wine-colored flowers atop a base of broad, strappy green leaves, eucomis – or pineapple lilies – are truly unusual and dramatic in the garden. Even their tall, round stems are intriguing, being weirdly splotched and speckled. Pineapple lilies are superb in sunny garden beds or areas with filtered light, and they are spectacular in containers.

Eucomis are summer bulbs, available in spring from garden centers as bare bulbs or potted nursery plants. Tropical in origin, they should be planted outdoors once the threat of frost is past and the soil has warmed. As container plants – 3 bulbs to a 12-inch pot makes a perfect planting – eucomis can be kept in the background in early summer, then moved forward for prime viewing during their July and August bloom time.

After bloom, pineapple lilies put on a stellar second show as their dried seed heads are considered by many to be even more gorgeous than the original blossoms. They are winter-hardy in USDA Zones 7 through 10. In colder areas, store the bulbs still in their pots over the winter in a protected area, then bring them back out early the next summer to grow and bloom again.

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