With one planting season over, it’s time to start looking forward to the next one. Spring planting season may seem far away, but it is never too early to start planning your beautiful garden displays. Get ahead and start planning for summer by learning when to plant summer-flowering bulbs.
When to plant bulbs
The optimal time for planting your favourite summer-flowering beauties is in the spring, between march and may. Early spring is the perfect time to start planting again when after all danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed up again.
As spring approaches, it’s time to head outdoors and prepare your garden for summer blooms. Flowers categorised as ‘summer bulbs’ are flowering bulbs which grow and bloom during the summer, and so they are planted at the start of spring. Summer bulbs need warm weather and warm soil; a rule of thumb to remember is if it’s time for your tomatoes to go outdoors, it is also time to plant your summer bulb.
J.Parker’s Spring 2020 Collection is available to browse and purchase online NOW! So why not take a look our selection below of some beautiful summer bulbs, and kick-start the inspiration for your summer garden.
How to plant: Begonias planted in beds which are enriched with well rotted or leaf mould will make a fine show. They should be started in shallow boxes in light soil; the saucer like tubers should be planted very shallow with the hollow side up. As soon as any danger of frost is passed then they can be transferred to their position in the garden at least 30cm apart.
How to plant: Dahlia tubers can be planted 10cm deep in fertile well drained soil, outdoors in spring when the frost has disappeared. They prefer to be in a sunny location and spaced at approximately 45cm apart. In areas where there is extreme cold, dig up dahlias and store in a cool peat over the winter. Apply a high potash fertiliser every few weeks in summer and dead head when necessary.
How to plant: each lily bulb should be surrounded with a little sharp sand both under and above the bulb to keep slugs away and to ward off excessive wetness. As most liliums are stem rooting we strongly recommend you plant at 15cm deep. They give a much better display when planted in clumps of 3, 6 or 12 bulbs (45cm apart). Planting time is October through to April.
How to plant: plant gladioli corms about 10-15cm deep and about 10-15cm apart, in fertile/well drained soil. When planting in a heavy soil, place some sand underneath each corm to help with drainage. At Parkers we recommend planting Gladioli in groups at monthly intervals, starting early spring, to extend the flowering season for a display which lasts all summer long.
With the new year approaching we can look forward to warmer weather and new growth appearing in our gardens, and now is the perfect time to be thinking of your summer display. Summer-flowering bulbs add an injection of colour to any garden and make for eye-catching borders and displays. Whilst often planted out in spring, many bulbs are suited to being planted as early as February. Be one step ahead and take inspiration from our selection below of Must-Have Flowers for 2020!
Summer Flower Top-Picks:
Lilies add a touch of the exotic to the garden, and their large, brightly coloured heads are bound to attract the eye. These flowers are a striking addition to pots and borders and provide a beautiful scent. Planting time is December to April.
Begonias are extremely popular for their versatility and reliability. From hanging baskets and window boxes to borders and pots, these colourful favourites are a centerpiece in the garden. Planting time is from February onwards.
Gladioli are a classic flower which have added excitement to summer displays for generations. Available in an array of bright and bold colours, they are often referred to as the ‘sword lily’ for their blade-shaped foliage. Planting time is early March to May.
Eucomis descend from South Africa and have an unusual pineapple shape. Their long-lasting flowers and attractive foliage are an exotic feature point of borders, pots and flowerbeds. Planting time is from February, if into pots and containers.
The general rule for planting bulbs is to dig deeper than the obvious. The usual guide is two to three times the depth of the bulb itself, however you will do less harm by planting too deep than too shallow. The other general rule is that bulbs need good drainage. The best way to achieve this is to mix grit into the general area or container of planting.
Many summer bulbs are ideal for growing in patio containers, especially tender species. These can then be lifted in winter and stored.
Step by Step:
Planting in borders:
Dig a hole wide and deep enough for your bulbs. Most bulbs require planting in a hole two to three times their depth.
Place the bulbs in the hole with their shoot facing upwards. Space them at least twice the bulb’s own width apart.
Replace the soil and gently firm. Avoid treading on the soil as this can damage the bulbs.
Planting in containers:
Dig a hole three times the bub depth, and plant the bulbs one width apart.
Water bulbs once after planting then regularly when in active growth. Reduce watering once the leaves die down through the dormant season.
If you bring pots of hardy bulbs indoors for flowering, put them in a sheltered spot outside as soon as flowering is over.
Looking for more information on planting our bulbs? Below you can find a selection of videos from our resident plant expert Jeff Turner explaining how best to plant your Summer Bulbs.
There is a garden philosophy: If you like it, it’s a flower; if you don’t, it’s a weed. It’s hard to have compassion for weeds, but they’re just plants growing in places where they’re not wanted. One approach is to pull the weeds out by hand but why not try a completely different approach? A thick mass planting of ground cover plants can control weeds by keeping the direct sunlight off the soil, which can cause weeds to germinate and can compete with the weeds for water and nutrients.
Here’s a guide to identifying the garden enemies in your garden.
Some are annuals and have a one-year life cycle that ends with them setting seeds for the next generation.
Others are perennials, like dandelions (having a lifecycle longer than one year). You may need to eradicate the main root of these to remove them.
Ground Cover for Full Sun
In full sun, the following ground cover plants are fantastic choices for beautiful and efficient sunny borders.
This beautiful hardy and versatile plant forms spreading clumps of colour through late-spring and are perfect for ground cover planting. They love full sun and is tough enough to suppress weeds and thrive even in the poorest of soils.
The large and vivid blue bell-shaped flowers of this plant are certain to make a lasting impact as ground cover. With its reliability, stability of colour and long spreading foliage, this plant is the perfect partner for suppressing weeds in your garden whilst providing lasting beauty throughout summer.
This plant is a heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant ground cover option. This Thyme variety adds an attractive mat of leaves with highly fragrant pink/mauve flowers in the summer. They are great for planting in crevices as they are great for choking out weeds.
For erosion control, few ground covers work better than this creeping perennial. They’re drought-resistant, not picky about soil quality and love full sun. Carpet your garden in the rich colour of Phlox Candy Stripe to attract butterflies and keep the weeds at bay.
Our superb mixture of summer flowering Heather will provide a carpet of vibrant colour in a ground cover display. Not only do they brighten up otherwise dull areas, they can be planted in partial shade areas and also work to suppress weeds
Ground Cover for Partial Shade
For a slightly shady area of the garden, try these:
This excellent ground cover plant offers a mound of silvery-green foliage beneath an abundance of dainty pink flowers. This sprawling perennial is a great summer flowering plant to suppress pesky weeds, and can also be planted in rockeries and dry stone walls.
Also known as ‘Dragon’s Blood’ Sedum, this variety may be the hardiest and most versatile of all weed-suppressing ground covers. Their trailing stems root easily and do well in places where little else will grow. This year round beauty provides bright green fleshy leaves with star-shaped pink flowers in summer.
With this plant’s reliability, stability of colour and resistance to pests and diseases, it has earned the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Their masses of star-shaped blue and violet flowers will bloom into late August and are very useful in the ground where the spreading foliage will produce a blanket of weed suppressing ground cover.
Ajuga keeps weeds out by creeping over the surface of the soil, putting down roots as it goes, and all the leaves knit together to leave not a millimeter of soil into which a weed can wheedle. Also, their vibrant green and purple foliage with white edging are perfect for colourful ground cover.
Originating from Turkey and Bulgaria, Rose of Sharon is one of the best ground cover options. Not only are their yellow star-shaped flowering popular with bees, their shrubby low-growing habit is extremely valuable for smothering those unwanted pesky garden weeds.
This magnificent evergreen shrub produces vivid red foliage on long slender leaves that have a unique metallic glimmer. They form in to a dense dome of foliage making them excellent ground cover to suppress weeds. Also, they look fantastic planted in pots/containers.
This amazing Hosta sprouts large pure white leaves in late spring/early summer that develop green streaks as the season progresses. Perfectly happy in shade, when paired with other Hostas, these plants knit together seamlessly to create a blanket of efficient weed suppression.
After you’ve picked your ground cover plants, it’s time to get in the garden!
To help you plant your ground cover this spring, here is our handy step-by-step tutorial, so that you can get the best performance and results from your garden this summer.
Which plants work the best for weed control?
Dense evergreen varieties are the best option if your main aim is to suppress weeds.
What do i need to do to prepare for planting?
Be sure to fully eradicate all existing weeds before you plant, especially perennials such as dandelions, as they will become near impossible to remove once your ground cover is planted.
Will the ground cover kill my other plants?
Place decorative rocks or stepping stones between ground cover and perennials to maintain a barrier for spreading stolons, or above ground perennials.
When planting more than one ground cover variety, spread mulch between the plants to conserve soil moisture and reduce unwanted plant growth.
What aftercare is required for ground cover?
Spread netting or old sheets over ground covers during autumn leaf drop. It can be difficult to rake leaves out of thick ground covers, and allowing the leaves to sit can create unhealthy conditions.
Are you planning your summer garden display and looking for advice on how to plant Cannas? In this handy blog guide, we will share our best knowledge and advice on how to plant Cannas in all areas of gardening from planting, arrangement to aftercare to make your gardening as simple and as easy as possible.
Cannas Mixed (Image Above)
Cannas are a fantastic addition to any summer garden. They are an excellent perennial that will add plenty of exotic style and colour to your garden displays. Their attractive dark leaf foliage with bright coloured showy flowers. They come in a range of vibrant colours from orange, red, pink and yellow which make great summer bedding as well as a part of your summer borders or patio display.
Cannas can be planted in April/May at a depth of between 7 and 10cm. They are often best started in pots and then transplanted in borders or beds towards the end of May. The best placement for them is to plant them in a sunny position, preferably out of the wind. Be sure to water during warm weather.
After your cannas settle in to the ground, roots and sprouts will form within a few weeks, or you can start your tubers indoors in a pot for earlier blooms as cannas need heat to keep them growing.
In this gardening tutorial, our resident gardening expert Jeff demonstrates the best way to plant Canna corms into pots to achieve an amazing display of colour in the summer.
After planting, water your Cannas generously to settle the soil around the rhizomes. After blooming has finished for the season, leave the foliage in place, do not cut it off. The leaves gather sunlight and provide nourishment for next year’s blooms. Remove leaves when they begin to turn. Your Cannas will rest for a few months before beginning their next cycle of growth in the Spring.
Need help on how to plant Cactus Dahlias? In this blog, we’ve compiled a guide full of tips and advice on planting, arrangement, and aftercare for your Cactus Dahlias, to allow you to get the best performance from your plants.
This special, eye-catching variety of Cactus Dahlias are distinctive by their unusual shaped summer flowers, which look fantastic planted together for colour bursting garden displays and borders, as well as when planted as a standalone item. They can flower until Autumn and have a wide range of interesting varieties, all with very showy flower shapes and rich colour shades.
Dahlia tubers can be planted 10cm deep in fertile well drained soil, outdoors in spring when the frost has disappeared. If you plant before the frosts are over, they may get frosted and die, so pot in March or early April for flowering in early July. They prefer to be in a sunny location and spaced at approximately 45cm apart.
Dahlias start blooming about 8 weeks after planting, starting in mid-July.
Some gardeners start tubers indoors in containers a month ahead to get a jump on the season.
In this video tutorial, our resident gardener Jeff covers how to plant Cactus Dahlia tubers in to pots and shares helpful tips and advice on how to achieve the best results out of your Dahlia plants.
There’s no need to water the soil until the dahlia plants appear; in fact, overwatering can cause tubers to rot. After dahlias are established, provide a deep watering 2 to 3 times a week, preferably more in hotter, dry climates.
In areas where there is extreme cold, dig up dahlias and store in a cool peat over the winter and then replanted the following year.
Apply a high potash fertiliser every few weeks in the summer to help growth and they can be dead headed when necessary.
Geums were once a severely overlooked plant, often used to plug the gaps in a cottage garden scheme. But then suddenly everyone started noticing new bright, zesty flowers colours appearing all the time at flower shows boasting spectacular long flowering times turning these beauties into stars in their own right.
Each stem produces lots of buds that will flower in succession, giving you a long summer display. Good for cutting but get the most out of them in the garden first.
Yhere are three different groups of cultivars rivale, coccineum and chiloense. The rivale have nodding, bell-like flowers. They like moisture retentive soils and prefer to grow in shade or semi shade. Coccineum are an alpine plant, flowering well after a cold winter and have upward facing flowers. The choloense are tall, sturdy plants producing large double flowers and can tolerate full sun as well as semi shade.
Soil and propagation: Geums like moisture retentive soils and will benefit from an annual mulching. Low maintenance but if you divide them when they start to loose growth from the middle they will last much longer, bringing years of pleasure. You can also take cuttings from the base in early spring.
They may succumb to powdery mildew at the end of the summer, just remove any affected stems. Prune back hard after flowering to give the foliage a boost for the rest of the year.
Geums are very popular for Cottage Garden style designs and work really well with lots of perennials. Featuring a few well places Dahlias amongst your Geums will make them more of a colourful backdrop to the main event. Make them pop by paring the red, yellow and gold tones of Geums against purples from Alliums or Pulmonaria. You can enhance the golden shades by planting daisy like Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Coreopsis or Helenium.
If you need good coverage in a shaded area why not try planting with Helleborus, which boast a similar stock of healthy evergreen foliage but will flower earlier in the year, giving you dashes of colour throughout the seasons as well as a constant lush green coverage.
There’s no denying that Begonias are one of the most popular and sought after flowers for the summer garden. With a beautiful and rich assortment of colours and a long flowering season, there are so many qualities to enjoy when it comes to these vibrant beauties.
Check out our guide to find out more about tubers and how to plant them, as well as a summary of our beautiful types of Begonias, so you can find a variety that best suits you and your garden’s needs.
What are Tubers?
Tubers are a thick underground part of a stem or rhizome and Begonia sizes are measured by the diameter of the tuber. Many of our varieties are supplied either as:
Standard size (3/4cm) – great for mass planting
Exhibition size (5cm+) – excellent for large flowering displays
For a large, showy display you can’t go wrong with a beautiful Lily and this month we’re focusing on the OrientalandOriental Trumpet (OT) Lilies. Native to Japan, these highly fragrant beauties are often called stargazers as their flowers tend to be outward and upward facing, as if they are looking up.
With their unusual and unique colour and markings Oriental Lilies are truly exquisite specimens, producing an abundance of flowers per bulb. Hardy and easy to grow, they will reach heights of two to six feet tall, excellent additions to a beds or borders and they can even be grown in pots. Oriental lilies will bloom late in the summer season, July – September.
OT lilies are a cross between Oriental and Trumpet varieties producing very tall plants, up to 2.5m mature height, perfect for the back of you borders. These beautiful Lilies can be incorporated into the back of your garden borders where they can tower over other bulbs and plants and act as a wonderful backdrop for your display. They will reach their full height by their third year and will naturalise if left undisturbed.
Plant at least 15cm/6in deep. Liliums prefer fertile, well drained soils, they’re not keen on lime in the soil. Surround each bulb with a little sharp sand under and above to keep off slugs and excessive wet. They give a much better display when planted in clumps of 3, 6 or 12 bulbs, 45cm apart. They appreciate the shelter of low growing shrubs or other plants near their roots. Planting time is from October to April/May. You can also plant lilies in pots. As they can get quite tall use a large pot that will fully accommodate the roots and you may also need to stake the plants for a bit of extra support. Stake at the time of planting to avoid damaging the bulbs.
How-to Video Tutorials
Giant Goliath Lilies
Worse pest: The Red Lily Beatle. The adult bugs will eat away the foliage and flowers. Look out for orange-red eggs or black larvae under the leaves or late for full size (8mm) bright red adult Beatles. You can protect your lilies by spraying them or by hand you can remove and crush them but a large infestation could be very time consuming as you need to check daily!
Introduced to the UK over 200 years ago Scabiosa caucasia are a striking alternative to the sunny yellow, orange and red shades that tend to dominate the summer months. They become a beautiful sight once their amazing and colourful blooms appear during the summer, flowering perpetually from June through to the first frosts in autumn. They make excellent cut flowers, but left in the garden are highly attractive to butterflies and bees.
Scabiosa like a sunny position. They will do best in temperate weather conditions, do not allow to get over wet in winter. In a really hot summer they can die back but as the weather cools towards October they may start to flower again. Extremely hardy and free flowering; they will thrive in most well drained soils – particularly good for chalky soil.
Deadhead to promote flowering. When established they will be more drought tolerant.
Will naturalise if left undisturbed making them a good addition to a wild garden.
‘Snow Cushion’ is a mound-forming, deciduous to semi-evergreen perennial with broadly lance-shaped, variably-lobed, grey-green leaves and upright, wiry stems bearing semi-double, white flower heads from early summer into autumn.