Planting bulbs that produce during the summer months can save you time and money during the hot season. Keeping your flower beds full of life during the dry season requires commitment.

Here are some tips for planting and managing your favorite type of summer flowering bulbs.

Common Summer Bulb Species

Common summer bulbs include multiple types of lilies, caladiums, cannas, begonias, dahlias and more. Most summer bulbs do well in Alabama and other parts of the South. Many thrive in the warm temperatures and humid conditions. You also will find many choices that are cold hardy in the South, but cannot overwinter farther north.

Most bulbs prefer a moist, well-drained soil. If you are located in sandy or heavy clay areas, you may want to amend your soils with organic materials to create a richer growing environment.

You will find summer bulbs that thrive in both shade and sun. Research the plant’s requirements and plan your growing areas accordingly.

Plant Correctly at Right Time

Taylor Vandiver, an Alabama Extension regional home grounds agent, said “It is important that you don’t plant too early. Plant in the late spring after the danger of frost has passed.”

Timing is important because a bulb that is planted too early may rot before it gets the chance to sprout. Vandiver recommends waiting until soil temperatures reach at least 55 degrees.

For success with any bulb, planting depth and spacing are critical. Most bulbs purchased from garden centers or online will come with planting instructions. However, a general rule of thumb for planting depth is two to three times the diameter for bulbs 2 inches or more in diameter, and three to four times the diameter for smaller bulbs. Spacing also will vary for different species and may range for a few inches to a foot or more.

While it is tempting to plant bulbs closer together, remember that may mean they will need to be dug and divided more frequently.

Water bulbs in well at planting.

Get Them Growing

Watering schedules are crucial to the health of any plant, but even more important during the hot and dry summers in the Southeast. In periods of low rainfall, make sure to supplement with irrigation.

Mulch for the planting area benefits bulbs as well. “Mulch is a great option, not only for moisture retention but for weed control and suppression,” said Vandiver.

Don’t let insects and disease do a number on your plantings. Scout for insect pests and disease symptoms.

Upcoming Extension Programs

• May 29 and May 31, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Etowah County Extension Office; Serv Safe training; call Christy Mendoza at the Extension office for more information.

• Call the local Master Gardener Hotline — 1-877-ALA-GROW — for all of your home garden and home pest questions.

For more information on this topic and many others, contact the Etowah County Extension Office, 256-547-7936 or 3200-A W. Meighan Blvd., Gadsden. Amy Burgess is extension coordinator for the Etowah County Extension Office.