Plant Bulbs Now

For Spring & Summer Color

By Jan Brick

While bulbs have differing temperature requirements, and some require some pre-chilling before being planted in the ground, many bulbs can withstand the island’s cool winter months and will bloom happily during the hot and humid summer. Several of these are old favorites like amaryllis, callas, and gladiolus, as well as the delightful and prolific daylily, but many exotics in this category also deserve mention.

The Peruvian daffodil is a spidery-looking combo of daffodil and amaryllis blooms with white petals showing pale green to yellow interior patterns. Pineapple lilies appear as somewhat peculiar specimen plants with large flower heads that resemble tiny pineapples.

Another exotic worth noting is the African blood lily that produces an eruption of color as a reddish-orange globe—a definite showstopper.

More beauties in the lily variety include the Orientals, such as the gardeners “go-to” lily—the Stargazer, with prize-winning, overlapping pink petals. These lilies make fabulous cut bouquets that last for quite some time especially when the anthers are removed. The stargazer stands at two to three feet in mid-summer and prefers sun to partial shade.

Another Oriental beauty, the Golden Stargazer sports upward-facing blooms with a deep golden center, requires full sun to partial shade, and blooms in June and July with a height of thirty-six inches. This is an exceptionally sweet-smelling plant that draws butterflies by the multitudes.

A classic lily with an exotic twist is the Forever Susan that features an easily recognizable form of outward facing blooms, tall straight stamens, and broad petals. This perennial returns faithfully every year with a hearty vitality, its exuberant palette of orange petals blending to purple and tipped in yellow. Blooming time spans early to midsummer if planted in sun or part shade.

As with all plants, one must consider light preference for bulbs, because not all examples favor sun light while others prefer full sun. A consideration of partial shade lovers should include Alstroemeria, with its long-lasting blooms for perfect cut arrangements, and Caladium, a foliage plant with huge brightly colored variegated leaves for a full season of color and texture.

Next are the ever-popular daylilies, named because individual blooms last only a single day but appear in succession over several weeks. With endless varieties and aesthetic choices, daylilies are easy to grow and cultivate.

Separate every two to three years for an abundance of plants with little effort. Daylilies seem to be the perfect perennial—tough, resilient, and nearly pest free.

Re-blooming daylilies will bloom in May or June and then again in the fall, while others will bloom successively over several periods of time. Deadheading the daylilies (removing the dead flower heads) will keep your beds tidy and will aid in preventing the development of unnecessary seed formation.

Each plant will develop into a clump ready for division in three to four years. These new plants will develop having the same size and color as the parent plant. Thousands of cultivars of daylilies exist, and personal preference is the best guide when purchasing a collection. Cultivars are generally grouped by several means such as bloom time (early, mid, late), flower color (white to yellow, pink to purple), height (six inches to three feet), or blossom type (trumpet, double, ruffled).

Selecting by bloom time and height will ensure a long summer of new and differing blooms in a breathtaking daily showcase. Plant in groups of three to five bulbs, pairing with small shrubs or ornamental grasses, or design a mass of lilies along fences and walkways.