10 Best Summer-Blooming Bulbs

We often think of planting bulbs for spring color, but there are many summer-flowering bulbs that can add color to the garden. Most summer bulbs are semitropical perennial plants. It's more common to see these flowers in warm climates, where most of the bulbs can be left in the ground all year. But even gardeners in cool climates can enjoy summer-blooming bulbs. While they're often not hardy enough to leave in the ground year-round, they can either be grown as annual plants or dug out of the ground and stored for winter. Here are 10 summer-blooming bulbs that are worth adding to your garden.

Tip

Most summer-blooming bulbs need to be planted in warm, well-draining soil. If you want to give your bulbs a head start, you can pot them indoors around a month or two before your outdoor weather meets their growing conditions. Then, bring them outside to continue growing in the pot, or transplant them into your garden. 

  • 01 of 10

    Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus Orientalis)

    Blue Agapanthus flowers

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    From around June to August, lily of the Nile produces rounded clusters of blue or white flowers on stalks that can reach 4 to 5 feet tall. Each cluster can have between 40 and 100 individual flowers. The plant grows in a variety of soil types, though it prefers soil that’s rich in organic matter. So add a layer of compost to your planting site each year. Space bulbs around 1 to 2 feet apart, and keep the plants evenly moist during hot weather.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Blue, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 02 of 10

    Tuberous Begonia (Begonia Tuberhybrida)

    Tuberous Begonia

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    The intense colors of tuberous begonias will light up a garden. The foliage on these plants looks almost succulent and makes them attractive even when they're not in bloom. Tuberous begonias have a long blooming period from around July to September. Plant the tubers with the concave side up around a foot apart. Keep the soil consistently moist, but ensure that your plants have good drainage and air circulation to prevent disease.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Red, orange, yellow, pink, white
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 03 of 10

    Caladium (Caladium Horulanum)

    caladium leaves
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    Caladiums are grown for their large, colorful leaves. Splashed or swirled with greens, whites, reds, and pinks, caladiums add a touch of the tropics to a shade garden. These plants do well in partial to full shade, as direct sunlight can scorch their leaves. They grow to a height and spread of around 1 to 2.5 feet, which makes them reasonable for growing in containers. If you live outside of their growing zone, you can store the plants in their containers indoors for winter.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Greenish-white
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Humusy, acidic, moist, well-draining
  • 04 of 10

    Canna (Canna)

    canna plant

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    Cannas come in several exotic and colorful varieties. Tall and showy, there’s no mistaking their tropical appeal. These plants grow to around 2 to 8 feet tall with a slightly smaller spread, depending on the variety. So make sure you give them enough space in your garden, planting the rhizomes around 4 to 6 inches deep once the threat of frost has passed in the spring. In the fall, you can lift the rhizome clumps out of the ground for winter storage if you live outside their growing zones.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Red, orange, yellow, pink, cream
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-draining
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Lily of the Valley (Convallaria Majalis)

    Lily of the Valley Flowers

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    You almost have to look for lily of the valley to actually see the flowers, but their intense scent will guide you to the plant. Lily of the valley often will spread and form a carpet in colder climates, especially in slightly acidic soil. Some gardeners find it to be invasive. Give your plant protection from hot sun, and keep the soil evenly moist. If it spreads beyond where you want it, promptly cut the rhizomes to remove new shoots.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-draining
  • 06 of 10

    Dahlia (Dahlia)

    red dahlia flowers
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    Dahlias form a huge family of diverse flowers. The smaller varieties are often grown as annuals, though you also can dig up and store dahlia tubers for winter if you're out of their growing zones. The plants range from around 1 to 6 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide; they bloom from July to September. Make sure you give your variety adequate space and plan to stake the taller varieties to keep them upright. Moreover, provide regular watering throughout the growing season, so the soil never dries out.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 07 of 10

    Gladiolus (Gladiolus)

    Galdiola Flowers
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    The gladiolus group makes for popular cut flowers with their colorful, trumpet-shaped blooms on long stalks. These plants are fairly adaptable when it comes to soil, but don’t plant them in heavy clay. Also, make sure your planting site has protection from strong winds. Gladiolus plants grow around 1 to 6 feet tall with a 1- to 2-foot spread, depending on the variety. Provide even moisture throughout the growing season, but reduce watering once blooming has stopped. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Red, orange, yellow, green, purple, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Humusy, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 08 of 10

    Iris (Iris)

    purple siberian iris
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    There’s an iris to please every gardener. The tall bearded iris is a traditional favorite. There are also the delicate Siberian iris, the dainty crested iris, and the water-loving flag Iris. Most irises are hardy and low-maintenance. Shallowly plant your rhizomes, making sure they have enough space to spread for their variety. Regularly water the plants during the growing season to prevent the soil from drying out, but ensure that they have good drainage. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Blue, purple, yellow, pink, orange, red, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Lily (Lilium)

    Lily Flowers

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    Lilium is a large and diverse group of trumpet-shaped flowers. They come in multiple colors (some with spotting and striping) and grow to around 1 to 8 feet. Most require little care once established in the right climate. They often do best if their upper part gets full sun, but the roots have some shade. You can maintain cool soil by adding a layer of mulch to the planting site. Plant the bulbs around 4 to 6 inches deep, and water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, red, orange, yellow, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 10 of 10

    Calla Lily (Zantedeschia)

    Calla Lilies

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    The calla lily is another summer bloomer with a tropical look. Its cup-shaped flowers are typically white, though they also come in yellow, pink, and red. Calla lilies are generally grown as annuals in cooler climates. But you can store the rhizomes indoors for the winter, as long as you bring them in before the first frost. These plants grow well around ponds and in rain gardens, as they like a fair amount of water. Don't allow the soil to dry out during the growing season.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 10
    • Color Varieties: White, yellow, pink, red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-draining