The 2014 All Things Plants Top 25 Summer Bulbs and Tubers

Posted by @dave on
What a fun and diverse group of plants! Come on in and check out the report of the top 25 most active summer bulbs and tuber entries in our plants database. You will be surprised at some of the plants that made the list!

#1: Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

@Calif_Sue says, "A lovely herb that is also a valuable source of color in the flower bed or in a potted combination. It blooms from early to late summer. If you are growing them for food rather than for decoration, snip the flowers before they bloom as they will grow thicker if they’re picked often."
#2: Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata)

@SongofJoy says, "Triploid. Zones 6-10. The red spider lily can be planted late spring through fall. It sends up winter foliage that dies back into dormancy during the summer and suddenly blooms in the fall. Red Spider Lily foliage needs at least a half-day of full winter sun to thrive.

The red spider lily foliage follows the flower, staying green well through the winter and into late spring. As a good "rule of thumb" for most bulbs, plant at a depth about three times the height of the bulb.

Performs well under deciduous trees."
#3: Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

@kqcrna says, "If deadheaded after first bloom cycle in early summer, asclepias tuberosa will rebloom in late summer. Deadheading also avoids attracting droves of milkweed bugs. The disadvantage of deadheading is no future volunteer plants."

@Newyorkrita added, "The original orange colored Butterfly Weed is a host plant of the Monarch Butterflies."
#4: Four o'Clock (Mirabilis jalapa)

@SongofJoy says, "Quickly becoming one of my favorites. A great plant here in zone 7a. It requires little attention, thrives in the blazing sun and humidity, and isn't picky about soil. Also fairly drought tolerant. Although it can reseed profusely and can be considered invasive under some circumstances, to me it is worth the effort to pull out the extra plants."
#5: Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

@gardengus says, "Garlic chives are a great addition to the culinary garden. I use them in much the same way as regular chives, to flavor dips and sauces and over baked potatoes. Great addition to stir-fry also.
Good dried, but loses much of its flavor and is best kept frozen when not fresh.
Easy to grow from seed and should be deadheaded before setting seed because they can take over. The white flower blooms late in the summer and is pretty enough to include in the showy category.
The flowers are very attractive to insects, and I see a lot of predator wasps on the blooms."
#6: Lily (Lilium 'Silk Road')

@Newyorkrita says, "Silk Road is the tallest lily that grows in my garden. Strong stems but they have so many flowers that the plants still need to be staked so that the stalk does not snap. You only need to get near these lilies to smell their lovely stong scent. The bulbs grow quite large, grapefruit size on mature plants and multiply well.

Rita, located on the north shore of Nassau County Long Island, NY zone 6/7 where it is humid in the summer."
#7: Drumsticks (Allium sphaerocephalon)

@jmorth says, "Introduced in 1594.
The oval flower heads are a couple of inches wide and consist of about 100 densely packed florets that are bell shaped. Tall stems."

@Ispahan added, "One of the best of the garden alliums with a late blooming season, unobtrusive chive-like foliage, and bulbs that are tolerant of summer moisture. This species looks best when planted en masse throughout the garden. Hundreds of bulbs can be tucked into small spaces and will play nicely even in even the smallest garden beds. The beautiful blooms attract all sorts of wonderful pollinators to the garden."
#8: Amaryllis (Hippeastrum 'Apple Blossom')

@plantladylin says, "I've been told that 'Apple Blossom' is a more common Amaryllis but it's still one of my favorites. I love purchasing bulbs to force for holiday blooms and 'Apple Blossom' is the only one I've ever had sprout blooms on such a short stalk!"
#9: Surprise Lily (Lycoris squamigera)

@jmorth says, "Temperamental about being transplanted; may not present until 2nd year. Very reliable thence forward.
Hummingbird moths frequent at dusk."
#10: Ornamental Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita')

@SongofJoy says, "Vines die in winter but tubers can be lifted and stored for planting again in the spring."

@teengardener1888 added, "This is a very easy, beautiful, and tolerant plant to grow. It makes a great groundcover. It has pretty morning-glory-like flowers hidden among the leaves. It does produce an edible but not tasty tuber that can be stored for next year for planting. When fall comes, either dig up the plant or take cuttings and place in water. Outdoors, give it sun, plenty of water, lots of fetillizer, and rich soil so it can take over"
#11: Gloriosa Lily (Gloriosa superba)

@Dutchlady1 says, "The only climbing Lily."

@Sharon added, "This is a most amazing plant. I planted it in a pot during the worst of our summer drought. It grew in spite of the weather and has bloomed non stop since August. Until we have frost, my guess is that it will continue to bloom. Beautiful."
#12: Onions (Allium cepa)

@Marilyn says, ""Onions are cultivated and used around the world. As a foodstuff they are usually served cooked, as a vegetable or part of a prepared savoury dish, but can also be eaten raw or used to make pickles or chutneys. They are pungent when chopped and contain certain chemical substances which irritate the eyes. Consumption is believed to benefit health in that onions contain phenolics and flavonoids that have potential anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, anticancer and antioxidant properties.

Common onions are normally available in three colours: yellow, red, and white. Yellow onions, also called brown onions, are full-flavoured and are the onions of choice for everyday use. Yellow onions turn a rich, dark brown when caramelized and give French onion soup its sweet flavour. The red onion is a good choice for fresh use when its colour livens up the dish. It is also used in grilling and char-broiling. White onions are the traditional onions that are used in classic Mexican cuisine. They have a golden colour when cooked and a particularly sweet flavour when sautéed.

Eye irritation can be avoided by cutting onions under running water or submerged in a basin of water. Leaving the root end intact also reduces irritation as the onion base has a higher concentration of sulphur compounds than the rest of the bulb. Refrigerating the onions before use reduces the enzyme reaction rate and using a fan can blow the gas away from the eyes. The more often one chops onions, the less one experiences eye irritation."

Taken from wikipedia's page at:
#13: Sunroot (Helianthus tuberosus)

@jmorth says, "Plant often grown for its nutty-tasting tubers. Tubers can be cooked like potatoes, sliced, and added to salads, or even pickled. Tubers grow best in sandy soils.
Fairly common wildflower in Illinois. Grows naturally in moist ground bordering woods, thickets, and prairie draws. Also, along streams, roadsides, and RR right of ways.
4" diameter yellow flowers top these 7 to 9' tall plants August through October.
The Jerusalem part of common name is from girasole, Italian for 'sunflower'."
#14: Chinese Ground Orchid (Bletilla striata)

@Marilyn says, "Taken from wikipedia's page at:

"Bletilla species are generally hardy, though some need protection from severe frost. It is better to keep them in pots of well drained media so that water does not sit around the roots during winter when the plants are not actively growing. They should also be watered sparingly at the start of the growing season as the new shoots emerge, as new roots often do not follow for around four weeks afterwards.

The flowers and leaves are at the mercy of late frosts, which are to be avoided if at all possible with coverings of a sheet or newspapers. Resist the temptation to remove the mulch layer even if the new growths are raising up the mulch due to an early Spring, unless no more frosts are likely. Unlike most tropical orchids, B. striata has attractive foliage even when not flowering. The pleated, tapered foliage looks very similar to the juvenile leaves of many palm species. A well established clump of these in flower is quite beautiful and they are surprisingly hardy even into USDA Zone 5 with a heavy mulch. They easily succeed in USDA Zone 6 with only a moderate mulch of straw or leaves. These hardiness ratings only apply to plants in the ground with the idea of preventing the actual root system from being frozen. If potted, they should be placed in a frost-free location if winter temperatures go below freezing. The plant is generally considered hardy without a mulch if minimum winter temperatures do not go below 25°F.""
#15: Peruvian Daffodil (Ismene x deflexa)

@eclayne says, "Hybrid Formula: I. longipetala × I. narcissiflora"
#16: Crinum (Crinum x powellii)

@SongofJoy says, "Crinum x powellii is a hybrid produced by crossing C. bulbispermum and C. moorei.

These plants are durable and hardy, reportedly surviving into zone 6. Like C. bulbispermum, C. x powellii plants hold their leaves through light and medium frosts."
#17: Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta)

@eclayne says, "In the 5 month growing season here the largest tubers of the type I have produce 6'+H plants with leaves around 3'L. I plant in late May and lift after the frost has knocked them down (usually mid-October). They do fine in full sun to part shade but do best with lots of water. The newer leaves seem to have more marbling in part sun/shade. I also don't believe you can feed them too much. Easy to store dry over winter while dormant.

As C. esculenta produce many roots from the top of the tuber a good "growing medium/compost/mulch" on top of the soil is very beneficial. I use my own compost. New tubers and stolons also produce roots (which can be much closer to the soil surface). These roots tend to spread out just below the surface. I dig a depression ~2' in diameter and 2" deep. Plant the tuber ~2" below the soil level and overfill the depression with ~3 to 4" of "growing medium/compost/mulch". This helps keep the roots cool and moist and gives them a good medium to grow in. Sometimes I'll mound more compost around the petioles later in the season. When I don't dig a depression I plant deeper and mound compost ~2-3" deep above the tuber.

A native of SE Asia, Taro is reported to have been cultivated for thousands of years and is now cultivated worldwide as a food crop. Because of this long period of cultivation and hybridization it is generally accepted that the actual species form is unknown to science. The tubers, petioles and inflorescence are eaten as a vegetable and the tubers are used in traditional medicine. Some varieties are considered invasive in the American southeast.

Growers in zone 8 and higher report the best results when grown in bright or dappled shade."
#18: Monkshood (Aconitum napellus)

@pirl says, "When I moved them from one garden to another they did not grow large the following year. They took the entire year off and did not bloom at all."
#19: Ornamental Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie')

@gardengus says, "While this is not hardy in my zone 5, I have successfully overwintered cuttings (in water) in the window until spring then potted them up for another year. This plant has even flowered inside in February while growing in water.

Easy to root cuttings in water."

@SongofJoy added, "Thrives in sunny, dry spots. Water as needed. A fast grower with an interesting dark color and leaf shape. Also good in pots."
#20: Swamp Lily (Crinum americanum)

@Horntoad says, "Crinum americanum is native to: (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TX)"

@SongofJoy added, "The swamp lily is a perennial herb with an onion-like bulb. The leaves are erect to spreading. Leaves are straplike, to three feet long and grow to three inches wide. Swamp lily flowers arise from the bulb on a long flower stalk that is separate from the leaves. The flowers have six petals and are white or white and pink

Swamp lily is found in the southeastern US.

Swamp lilies may sometimes be confused with spider lilies (Hymenocallis). Swamp lily flowers have 6 separate petals. Spider lily flowers have petals that are connected by membranous tissue."
#21: Pink Rain Lily (Zephyranthes minuta)

@SongofJoy says, "This is the large-flowered traditional pink rain lily. The flowers are borne on stalks about 6-8 inches above the grass-like foliage. It blooms from spring through summer. Summer storms can trigger massive blooms three to five days after the storm has passed.

These are good in part shade to full sun and do well with irrigation.These larger rain lily bulbs quickly clump and spread. The light pink showy displays make great borders."
#22: Mexican Shell Flower (Tigridia pavonia)

@jmorth says, "Flowers last but a day, flower production continues for several weeks. Exotic and vivid. Quite popular in the Victorian era.
If north of hardiness zone, must be lifted overwinter, dried off, stored in sand at 45 - 50°."
#23: Lily (Lilium 'Red Velvet')

@Ispahan says, "A charming, classic Asiatic lily hybrid that is in the North American Lily Society Hall of Fame. It forms a nice pyramid of waxy, resplendent deep red downfacing flowers and lasts for several weeks. No fragrance."
#24: Phillippine Ground Orchid (Spathoglottis plicata)

@plantladylin says, "Spathoglottis plicata, a terrestrial (ground) orchid is an evergreen perennial plant popular in tropical and subtropical gardens. Used as a ground cover or as a container plant, it forms clumps of crowded pseudobulbs just below the soil surface. The arching leaves grow up to 24" in length and clusters of flowers are borne at the end of tall spikes emerging from the base of the pseudobulbs. Ground Orchids prefer high humidity, a bright shady location and well draining potting medium. Spent bloom spikes should be removed to promote continuous blooming."
#25: Voodoo Lily (Amorphophallus konjac)

@jmorth says, "This selection is the Amorphophallus usually grown for food."

Well, that's our top 25! I don't know about you, but I'm having WAY too much fun to stop now. Let's look at the NEXT 25!

#26: Parrot Lily (Alstroemeria pulchella)

@Mindy03 says, "Honey bees get nectar and pollen from this plant."

@JaxFlaGardener added, "The easiest method of propagation of this plant is by division of the tubers, which are about the size of an unhulled peanut.

In my climate, it can be quite invasive, so you may want to grow it in a pot until you see how quickly it can spread. Any portion of the tuber left in the ground will grow new plants.

#27: Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri')

@plantladylin says, "Asparagus Fern is a rapidly growing evergreen plant with arching, cascading branches of needle like leaves. It forms large clumps that attain heights of @ 3 feet and widths to 4 feet. The plant looks soft and fern like but there are thorns present on the branches. It produces tiny white blooms followed by small red berries that attract birds.

Asparagus Fern has become invasive in Central and South Florida, disrupting native plants. It grows in my yard in both full sun, as well as full shade and is extremely drought tolerant."
#29: Florida hedgenettle (Stachys floridana)

@Horntoad says, "Sometimes called Rattlesnake Weed because the tubers are said to resemble a rattlesnakes rattle."

@Horntoad added, "Tubers are edible. Can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled. Raw tubers remind me of a mild radish."
#30: Amaryllis (Hippeastrum 'Minerva')

@plantladylin says, "I planted 'Minerva' bulbs in a container with other plants and quickly forgot about them. Then one day I noticed these lovely buds showing, soon to be followed by the beautiful blooms. It is a long-blooming Amaryllis. I experienced blooms on this one off and on all summer."
#31: Taro (Colocasia esculenta 'Mojito')

@eclayne says, "Great colors and form and it likes full sun here. This year, 2012, they reached 5 feet plus and produced loads of pups close to the crown. The parent tuber rotted after potting up for overwintering 2011-12. Three pups survived and were potted up. Two were then planted in ground in mid-May. Both produced tubers large enough to overwinter,...hopefully.

Per the plant patent statement by Agristarts "...a naturally-occurring branch mutation of Colocasia esculenta `Midnight`..." Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta 'Midnight')"
#32: Blue Ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora)

@Skiekitty says, "Amazingly, this plant is actually part of the Spiderwort family!


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Subclass: Commelinidae
Order: Commelinales
Family: Commelinaceae – Spiderwort family
Genus: Dichorisandra J. C. Mikan
Species: Dichorisandra thyrsiflora J. C. Mikan – blue ginger"
#33: Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus)

@jmorth says, "If grown in colder zone than listed, may be stored frost free over winter. Chocolate pudding color with a chocolate fragrance (actually a light vanillin scent, a scent often associated with chocolates).
Plant is extinct in the wild (Mexico). Vegetative propagation from a single tuber in 1902 has maintained availability.
Quite the conversation piece.."
#34: Amaryllis (Hippeastrum 'Aphrodite')

@plantladylin says, "'Aphrodite' is my favorite Amaryllis of all time. I just love the shape and color of the bloom."
#35: Crinum (Crinum 'Ellen Bosanquet')

@SongofJoy says, "In the South, this Crinum keeps its leaves most of the year and doesn't die back. It is still a favorite and one of the easiest to grow in moist, rich, well-drained soil.

My zone seems to be where the debate begins about whether to dig and store Crinums over winter or whether to leave them in the ground. Mine stay in the ground with a leaf mulch. They have done well.

The flowers of this Crinum are noted for having a spicy fragrance. Flower scapes typically rise to 3’ tall.

This Crinum was hybridized by Louis Bosanquet in Florida sometime between 1915-1920 and was named after his wife."
#36: Rosary Vine (Ceropegia linearis subsp. woodii)

@plantladylin says, "String of Hearts is an evergreen, succulent-like trailing vine with small heart shaped dark green, silver mottled leaves. The flowers that usually appear in the summer months are a creamy tan color and have the appearance of little upturned tubular vases. This plant prefers warmth, bright light and a well draining potting medium."
#37: Golden Spider Lily (Lycoris aurea)

@SongofJoy says, "Lycoris aurea is the yellow species usually offered in commerce and is considered to be the largest Lycoris.

The leaves are an inch wide and up to three feet long. It is fall and winter growing. The foliage is very sensitive to frost, and so it is extremely tender."
#38: (Freesia laxa)

@JRsbugs says, "I grew these from seed. They are quite hardy, but so far I have kept them in pots in a cold greenhouse. The very harsh winter 2011 in the UK seems to have killed them, but they make plenty of seed, which I had collected. Some seed dropped in the pots and grew without any help from me, so next year I might get flowers again. Worth a try in the garden in a place that doesn't get too much winter wet.

Native to South Africa in summer rainfall areas."
#39: Natal Lily (Crinum moorei)

@SongofJoy says, "The Natal lily, Crinum moorei, has large white to pinkish red open tubular flowers. The plant should be grown in dappled shade as full sun will burn the leaves and turn them yellow.

Bulbs sown from seed take three to four growing seasons before flowering. Older bulbs being planted should be well spaced to prevent overcrowding since they continue to produce new bulbs. The bulbs are dormant in winter and the leaves die after flowering."
#40: White Fawn Lily (Erythronium albidum)

@wildflowers says, "The flowers bloom from just mid-March until mid-April. White Trout Lily is a very special woodland plant that usually blooms a little earlier than other spring flowers, although, immature plants that don't bloom always out-number mature plants.. Trout lily bulbs produce just one leaf in the first 6 years, then 2 leaves, a scape-stem, and finally a flower in the 7th year. White Trout Lily can produce large colonies of plants if it is left undisturbed for several decades. Both the flowers and mottled foliage are attractive. The flowers are primarily pollinated by both long-tongued and short-tongued bees; for nectar and pollen."
#41: Trout Lily (Erythronium 'Pagoda')

@JRsbugs says, "This is a cross between E. californicum 'White Beauty' × E. tuolumnense.

I bought it in a pot with three small bulbs about 12 years ago, I planted them deep at the base of an east facing bank in semi-shade. It took many years for the two which survived to bulk up, in 2010 I had a good display but in 2011 they didn't do well. Perhaps the harsh 2010/11 winter then very dry year didn't suit them, or maybe the bulbs have split. I have noticed over the years they scarcely show in some years but they make a great show when they do."
#42: Double Flowering Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa 'The Pearl')

@jmorth says, "Grown in pots here overwintered dry in basement. Some flower scapes have been quite a bit taller than 2'.
This plant generates an amazing panorama in late summer when the sun goes down and the lights go off. Plant's perfume attracts nocturnal visitors predators and prey alike. It all boils down to a simple description, the takers or the taken. Praying Mantis seemed to be in control this past year, the year before a small 'tree frog' was ruler of the roost."
#43: Voodoo Lily (Amorphophallus bulbifer)

@SongofJoy says, "In early summer, a beautifully mottled thick leaf stalk emerges and opens into a big hand-shaped leaf 2 or 3 feet wide. Then a white phallic-shaped flower protrudes from a pinkish sheathing cone, the whole thing getting up to 18 inches or so tall. The "treat" is the organic scent of decaying meat which effectively attracts fly pollinators. The smell doesn't stay around for long, and the leaves and stems are quite ornamental. All goes dormant by the end of the summer or early fall. Plant this one in shade and good soil. It does not want extra moisture in the winter. It is easily propagated by snapping off the baby bulblets that grow like warts in the leaf and leaflet axils."
#44: Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas 'Beauregard')

@SongofJoy says, "A good sweet potato for the South and warmer climates."

@farmerdill added, "Currently the standard for commercial production of sweet potatoes. It is a good producer with good flavor. It is not my favorite. I prefer Copper Jewel and Carolina Ruby."
#45: Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa)

@Ispahan says, "While this plant is indeed commonly cultivated in México, it is never called "azahar" (which is the word used for citrus blossoms, especially orange blossoms), but rather "nardo" or "azucena" (azucena being the generic term for any white, lily-like flower). The tuberose was already entirely domesticated by the indigenous civilizations of Mexico at the time of the Spanish conquest, and forms of Polianthes tuberosa growing in the wild have never been discovered or seen.

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about this plant, so be wary of your sources. Basically, it needs warmth, sunshine, well-drained soil, even moisture (don't overwater but don't let it get bone dry either!), and at least a month and a half of good growing AFTER it is done flowering if you want the tubers to produce flowers the next growing season. That is where most northern growers fail with them, since they tend to bloom rather late in the season anyway. In any case and no matter what the climate, they are enchanting when grown in LARGE pots (perhaps three roots to a 10" or 12" pot) that provide ample room for the vigorous root systems and allow for sufficient expansion of the tubers. Since plants grown in pots tend to be warmer than those grown in the ground, they often bloom a few weeks earlier as well. When grown correctly, the tubers multiply at an astonishingly fast rate and you will have an ample supply to provide blooms from year to year. Oh!, and they must be divided AT LEAST every three or four years, otherwise the blooms will fizzle out.

I prefer the single "Mexican" tuberoses over the double ones called "The Pearl." The doubles can't hold a candle to the singles for elegance, intensity of fragrance or ease of cultivation (in my experience, the doubles tend to be a bit fussy)."
#46: Black Stem Elephant Ear (Colocasia fontanesii)

@JRsbugs says, "I have tried more than one Colocasia including 'Illustris' and 'Black Magic', this is the only one remaining alive. Illustris grew well from a tiny tissue culture seedling to make a large tuber but with two cold summers and going dormant over winter it gave up the ghost when there was not enough warmth for it to regrow in spring, these conditions do not affect 'Fontanesii' the same. In the UK it is advisable to keep them in a pot and bring inside over winter, this one will keep growing a little even over winter inside at temperatures around 16C give or take a little so the problem of bringing it into growth again does not exist. I think it prefers to be outside in summer, this year I kept it in a greenhouse but it didn't thrive, so natural rain water might encourage good growth as it brings down nitrogen although 2011 in the UK was exceptionally rain free. I grow it in a mix of gritty 'river soil' and lots of leafy compost which most bulbs thrive in. Runners are sent out from the main tuber and if they have room will make new tubers, I now have three in a larger pot than it was in originally, the first time it made a runner the pot wasn't wide enough for it to take root so I lost the advantage of having the plant make a new tuber."
#47: Variegated Pineapple Flower (Eucomis bicolor)

@SongofJoy says, "An excellent cut flower and very fragrant.

Plant outdoors after the ground warms to about 50º."
#48: Guernsey Lily (Nerine filifolia)

@SongofJoy says, "Nerine filifolia is native to South Africa and Swaziland. It has thread-like leaves, 1¾-inch flowers are produced in late summer. Scapes are about 8 to 16 inches tall and sparsely covered with short bristly hairs. The filaments of the stamens extend almost straight out 15-20 mm beyond the tepals.

This plant is evergreen and grows in the summer. It has fine hairs on the peduncle and on the pedicels."
#49: Rain Lily (Zephyranthes candida)

@jmorth says, "Considered one of the hardier of the Rain Lilies. Pest-proof.
Mine are grown in a pot overwintered dry in the basement.
This species native to the marshlands of the Rio de la Plata in Uruguay & Argentina."
#50: Single Dahlia (Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff')

@pirl says, "At the end of the season I made the mistake of not dividing the plant. The tubers had grown into several plants and should have been divided. It grew itself to death (sounds silly, I know) the following year. Unless dahlias are divided, regardless of the growing zone, the ball of tubers can't get sufficient nutrients to survive. People will notice fewer and fewer blooms and attribute it to something other than the true cause - they do need to divide dahlias."

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