HOSTAS, SUMMER BULBS - Knowledgebase Question

BALTIMORE, Ma
Question by JMTAYLOR2
May 27, 2008
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I WATER MY HOSTAS? WHAT TIME OF DAY IS BEST? COULD I ADD MIRACLE GROW FOR GARDEN PLANTS, AND IF SO, HOW OFTEN? ALSO,WHAT KIND OF BULBS CAN I GET TO HAVE THEM COME UP EVERY YEAR LATE SUMMER? I GET PLENTY OF SUN IN MOST AREAS. THANK YOU.


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Answer from NGA
May 27, 2008

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There are many summer bulbs from which to chose. Lilies are a popular selection. They thrive in full sun to partial shade. It is important to provide adequate drainage and mulch these plants to keep their roots cool. Lilies make great cut flowers and provide gorgeous color shows during most of the summer season. Lilies come in many colors and shapes, such as the gold colored 'Enchantment' lily. 'Adagio' is a brilliant red-orange Harlequin lily. In mass, these lilies literally light up your landscape. And lilies come in mixes, too. These work best in informal masses or clump plantings spread throughout your gardens. Multiple flowers can be enjoyed on some types of lilies.

Daylilies, although not related to other lilies, also make bright color displays in mid- to late summer. Like lilies, daylilies grow well in full sun to partial shade. They prefer soils high in organic matter that is well drained. These plants grow and spread in the garden, making gorgeous color displays lasting well into the summer season.

Iris are another summer bulb favorite. They usually flower during the first part of summer. There are Dutch Iris, generally a little shorter than other iris. They prefer partial shade and well-drained soil. Japanese Iris are a special treat with their unique flowers. Shortened standards give Japanese Iris a squat look. Unusual purple, yellow, and white combinations make the flowers distinctive. These plants demand acid soils amended with organic matter. 'Norma,' another Japanese Iris, has a lovely lavender, ruffled look.

Shortened forms of iris make attractive bed borders and fill low spots. Bearded Iris comes in many colors other than the typical blue, lavender, and white. The 'Oriole' is scarlet, and others come in yellows, peaches, and bicolors. These attractive flowers are probably the best known iris and are favored for their long bloom period. Bearded Iris grows well in full sun. Proper soil drainage is important in preventing bacterial soft rot in the rhizomes.

Dahlias are other summer flowering bulbs that offer a great deal of variety in the garden. They thrive in full sun or partial shade and prefer moist, well-drained soil. Their many brilliant and rich colors make striking displays that provide an excellent garden backdrop. Some dahlias come as single-blossomed flowers, other dahlias have double blossoms, like the 'Peppermint Stick.'

Dahlias also have variable heights. The 'Dwarf Border Jewel' works well for borders and garden spots needing to be filled with short plants. Dahlia flowers can be rather exotic looking, like the 'Bertha Shane' lavender blend. It looks like a piece of sea coral found in the ocean. In a garden, this particular cultivar would provide interesting texture contrast amongst flowers. Other cultivars, like 'Starry Night,' have bicolor petals offering yet more flower diversity in your summer garden.

Gladiolus offer a more linear aspect to your garden with their long flower spikes. They like to be planted in full sun locations with moist soil that is well drained and has good air circulation. They make great cut flowers. They, too, come in many colors -- yellow, peach, pink, orange, and red.

Hostas like to be watered deeply once a week - twice a week if the weather is hot.

Best wishes with your garden!

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