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Bulbs to plant in winter.

In mild climates, now's time to plant some of summer's most colorful bloomers

BULB PLANTING IS most often associated with fall, when nurseries stock dozens of varieties of daffodils and tulips. But there's another important season to plant bulbs.

In the West's mild-winter climates, bulbs, corms, and tubers of some of the showiest and most colorful warm-season flowers can be planted now through March. (In cold or wet climates, wait a month or two before planting bulbs outdoors.)

Begonias and dahlias are well known for their brilliant colors and long bloom season. Callas, gladiolas, lilies, and tigridia produce a showy display in pots or garden beds in late spring or summer. Along with Asiatic lilies, acidanthera and tuberose add intense fragrance to the garden, or to the house when brought in as cut flowers. Crocosmia, an old-fashioned favorite, spreads freely. And liatris's flower plumes offer something a little unusual for a perennial or flower border.

To get a jump on the season, start begonias and tuberose indoors and plant after last frost.


Many of these 10 plants come in a range of colors and sizes. Climate zones listed are from the Sunset Western Garden Book. Unless noted, plants grow in all zones.

In cold or wet areas, lift, dry, and store begonia, calla, dahlia, gladiolus, tigridia, and tuberose before winter.

Acidanthera (Gladiolus callianthus). Fragrant white flowers marked with brown or maroon appear in spring or summer on 2- to 3-foot-tall stems. Full sun; moist soil.

Tuberous begonia. Upright plants 1 to 1 1/2 feet tall have flowers up to 5 inches wide; hanging plants have 3-inch flowers. Both come in dozens of colors and bloom summer to fall. Filtered shade or an eastern exposure; moist soil.

Calla (Zantedeschia). Showy part is a flower bract that looks like an upturned bell. Dwarf pinks, yellows, and oranges grow to 1 1/2 feet tall; common white calla grows to 3 feet. Full sun (partial shade inland). Moist soil; common calla grows in many soils. Blooms spring or summer. Zones 5, 6, 8, 9, 14-24.

Crocosmia (montbretia). Small orange, red, or yellow flowers on 2 1/2- to 4-foot branched stems. Full sun (part shade inland); drought tolerant. Blooms summer. Best in zones 5-24 (in colder zones, plant in sheltered area and mulch).

Dahlia. Dozens of colors and forms. Plants range in height from 15 inches to over 6 feet with flowers up to a foot wide. Full sun (light shade inland); moist soil. Blooms summer to fall.

Gladiolus. Garden glads send up flower stalks 4 to 6 feet tall, miniature glads to 3 feet, baby glads to 1 1/2 feet. All have flaring flowers in many colors. For a succession of bloom, plant every 15 days. Plant year-round in frost-free Southern California. Full sun; moist soil. Blooms spring or summer.

Liatris. Plumes of purple or white flowers, 2 to 3 feet tall or more, top tufts of narrow, grassy leaves. Grow in full sun; any soil. Tolerates drought. Blooms summer. Zones 1-10, 14-24.

Lily (Lilium). Many shapes and colors. Heights range from 1 to 6 feet or more. Asiatic lilies are some of the most popular, with flowers to 7 inches wide. Grow in full or filtered sun, moist soil; shade roots. Blooms mainly in summer.

Tigridia. Vividly colored triangular flowers, 3 to 6 inches wide on 1 1/2- to 2 1/2-foot stalks, bloom in July and August. Provide full sun (afternoon shade inland) and moist soil.

Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa). Fragrant, white flared flowers on 3-foot stems; grassy foliage. Needs heat to bloom. Sun or part shade; moist soil. Zone 24; elsewhere dig in winter or plant in containers and protect. Blooms summer to fall.
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Title Annotation:Gardening; summer bloomers
Author:Swezey, Lauren Bonar
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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