6. SUMMER BULBS AND TUBERS AND CORMS: Dahlias, Gladiolas, Canna And Calla Lillies and Begonias

Early summer planted bulbs, corms and tubers are powerhouses of stored flower energy that start blooming just a few months after planting. There's no waiting for these plants to get established. Once they're in the ground, the bulbs sprout roots and get right down to the business of working hard to create flowers though it does take a little while for the blooms to arise.

You can plant them in early summer as soon as the soil warms up. The list is longer than you think, and I can assure you, it will become addictive. Spring bulbs bloom from mid-to-late summer and into the fall. I'm not talking about daffodils and tulips and the like. I'm referring to my favorites - dahlias and gladioli (glads) and then comes cannas and tuberous begonias and let’s not forget the lilies. Unlike, the others, they do not need to be stored inside in the winter.

Dahlias, Gladioli, Canna and Calla Lilies and tuberous begonias are the most common summer-flowering perennials that grow from bulbs or other storage organs. They aren’t hardy over winter in northern climates. Yet it's easy to overwinter these, and other cold-sensitive perennials that grow from bulbs, corms, and tubers, indoors so you can replant next spring.

Their food storage organs (actually underground stems) are often referred to as bulbs, although technically this refers to those elongate, pointed ones with scales such as daffodils. Corms are the flattened ones, as with gladiolus. Tubers are the large, irregular swollen storage organs such as with dahlias or tuberous begonias.

Cannas and tuberous begonias that you've grown in containers can be stored indoors over winter in their pots.

One of the best things about spring-planted bulbs is that they hit their stride in the latter time of summer when the rest of the flower garden is beginning to fade and flag. They add a welcome jolt of color and fragrance to your beds and borders, and especially to your home, as all of them are excellent cut flowers.

Dahlias - This great cut flower has a myriad of colors and different shape flowers. I've been growing and saving them for over 20 years. As I stated I'm a dahlia fan and my appreciation for them has grown every year. Our autumn frosts are coming later each year, and this gives my dahlias an extra couple of weeks to bloom. I'm amazed by the extravagance of flowers produced by a hand-sized clump of dahlia tubers. I planted some in Anna Carey’s garden near the sidewalk and people will stop and look and just be amazed at their beauty. Some gardeners start their dahlia tubers in pots about a month before planting them out into the garden. This gives them a head start.

Dahlia is a genus of bushy, tuberous, herbaceous perennial plants native to Mexico. They are related to dicotyledonous plants whose species include the sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum, and zinnia. There are 42 species of dahlia, with hybrids commonly grown as garden plants. Flower forms are variable, with one head per stem.

They can be as small as 2 in diameter or up to 1 ft.

The stems are leafy, ranging in height from as low as 12 in to more than 6–8 ft. The majority of species do not produce scented flowers or cultivars. Like most plants that do not attract pollinating insects through scent, they are brightly colored, displaying most hues, with the exception of blue.

The dahlia was declared the national flower of Mexico in 1963. The tubers were grown as a food crop by the Aztecs, but this use largely died out after the Spanish Conquest. Attempts to introduce the tubers as a food crop in Europe were unsuccessful.

To make dahlias last longer as a cut flower in a vase, scald the cut end for 2 minutes in hot water and then let the water cool. The dahlia flowers will last for up to seven days.

Gladiolus - Gladiolus or what I call, “glads” bring happiness to the garden and the people in them. I always get a smile on my face when I see them. What I find most amazing is that you can see glads from a distance as their colors stand out tall. Glads like dahlias should be planted in a cutting garden in rows or in a circle, where they have their own space. This also makes it easier to provide a little support should they begin to list. Plant at least two or three different batches of gladiolus corms, a couple weeks apart. This way you'll have flowers coming into bloom over a six-week period, right up to frost.

A less-familiar type of gladiolus is also known as peacock orchids. They're popular in England, where they're praised for their delicate form and intense fragrance.

Gladiolus comes from the Latin word for a sword. It is a genus of perennial flowering plants in the iris family. It is sometimes called the 'Sword lily' gladioli. They grow from rounded, symmetrical corms that are enveloped in several layers of brownish, fibrous tunics.

The genus Gladiolus contains about 260 species, of which 250 are native to sub-Saharan Africa, mostly South Africa. About 10 species are native to Eurasia. There are 160 species of Gladiolus endemic in southern Africa and 76 in tropical Africa. The flowers of unmodified wild species vary from very small to perhaps 40 mm across, and inflorescences bearing anything from one to several flowers. The spectacular giant flower spikes in commerce are the products of centuries of hybridization, selection, and perhaps more drastic manipulation. There flowers are variously colored, pink to reddish or light purple with white, contrasting markings, or white to cream or orange to red.

The South African species were originally pollinated by long-tongued bees, but some changes in the pollination system have occurred, allowing pollination by sunbirds and Hawk-moths, long-tongued flies and several others. In the temperate zones of Europe many of the hybrid large flowering sorts of gladiolus can be pollinated by small well-known wasps. Actually, they are not very good pollinators because of the large flowers of the plants and the small size of the wasps. Another insect in this zone which can try some of the nectar of the gladioli is the best-known European Hawk-moth which usually pollinates many popular garden flowers like Petunia, Zinnia, Dianthus and others.

Gladioli have been extensively hybridized, and a wide range of ornamental flower colors are available from the many varieties. The main hybrid groups have been obtained by crossing four or five species. They make very good cut flowers.

Canna Lilies - The canna lily plant is a rhizomatous perennial with tropical-like foliage and large flowers that resemble that of iris. They aren't true lilies, but they feature large lily like flowers in spring.

Canna lilies are low maintenance and easy to grow, and both their flowers and foliage offer long-lasting color in the garden. Flower color may be red, orange or yellow. Depending on the variety, foliage color varies from green to maroon, bronze, and variegated types.

While typically grown as annuals in cooler regions like Vermont, given the proper conditions, canna lilies can color the garden year after year. They like plenty of heat, so place them in full sun. They can also tolerate partial shade. Cannas like moist conditions too, but will tolerate nearly any well-draining soil that is either neutral or slightly acidic. They appreciate bog-like conditions as well. The soil should also be rich in organic matter.

Canna lilies are grown from bulbs with one side being smoother than the other. The side that’s bumpy or has little circular areas produces growing shoots. Once established, cannas need to be kept moist. They also require monthly fertilizer that is relatively higher in phosphate for continual bloom. High quality compost should be adequate.

It’s necessary to dig up and store canna rhizomes in the fall.

They can also be overwintered in pots. In spring the bulbs can be moved back outdoors and replanted.

When growing cannas in the garden, placing them in mixed borders or group plantings will offer the most dramatic effect.

Source: Canna lilies – National Gardening Association

Plus, the online Source: And Gardening Know How

Calla lilies - Calla is a genus of flowering plant in the family Araceae, containing the single species Calla palustris. It is native to cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, in central, eastern and northern Europe, northern Asia and northern North America. They are available in a multitude of colors, grow from rhizomes and are ideal for use in beds and borders. You can also grow calla lilies in containers outdoors or as houseplants.

Calla lily bulbs are pretty goof-proof. The trickiest part of planting calla lily bulbs is that you must wait until the soil is warm and there’s no chance of frost. And please remember, they are tropical plants that crave heat and sun. Plant the bulbs so the side with the growing tips (eyes) faces up. If you can’t detect that side and plant your bulbs upside down, shoots will bend around bulbs and still pop out of soil.

Tuck calla lily bulbs 3 to 4 inches deep into soil that’s rich in organic matter and drains well. Amend beds with organic matter if you have heavy clay soil. In containers, use a commercial bagged soil-less mix designed for pots. Soil must drain well, or you risk having calla lily bulbs rot. This is also why it’s important to plant after soil warms. Calla lily bulbs plus cold and wet soil leads to bulb rot. So why not try your hand at growing these plants as they are a cinch to grow. You can easily store the bulbs for winter.


Begonias are easy to grow, need only moderate care, and will reward you with a lovely display of blooms all summer long. Some are grown for just their colorful leaves, but most come in a range of flower colors.

Most begonias grow best in part shade (4 to 6 hours of direct morning sun a day), or filtered sun (as through trees). Most will tolerate full shade (no direct or filtered sun), but won’t be as dense and usually have fewer flowers. A few grow in full sun. They prefer moist, but not soggy, soils. If powdery mildew disease plagues your garden, look for resistant varieties, don’t get water on leaves, and provide proper spacing for air circulation around plants.

The begonia family is huge, with over 1,500 species and thousands of selections. Such a large family may be divided into groups in several ways. You may see them classified by root type—fibrous or tuberous (those with swollen yet flattened, brown tuber structures). You may see them grouped by use—flowering or foliage. Or you may see them grouped by habit-- shrub, spreading, thick-stemmed, or cane types. While many are heirlooms that your grandmother may have grown, there are quite a few new and exciting introductions in recent years.

The tuberous begonias are perhaps the showiest, with large single or double flowers in most colors. Like other begonias, tuberous ones won’t tolerate much (if any) frost. But, unlike others, once the tops die back in fall you can bring in the tubers and overwinter them indoors. Store tubers either dry in their pots or, if dug from the garden, store them in dry peat moss. Pot in early spring (March) or, if in pots already, begin watering lightly as growth resumes.

Another Method - Although begonias can't be planted in the garden until mid-May, you can get a jump on the season by planting tubers in pots in March or April. For indoor starting, fill containers with coarse peat moss, or soil-less medium. Press the tubers into the medium three to four inches apart, with the concave side up. Place containers in a dark room at 65 to 70 degrees F. Once the shoots start to develop, add more medium to cover the tubers. Move to a sunny window. Keep the mix moist, but avoid overwatering as tubers may rot. You can fertilize every two to three weeks with liquid fish and seaweed according to recommended rates. Or you can make a strong compost tea. The “Chuckster” just said, “I knew you were going to mention compost. You always do.”

In mid-May, plant in a well-drained and partially shaded area. Set tubers in the ground so they are barely covered. Place 18 to 24 inches apart to allow plenty of space for growth and air circulation. Apply some compost and water when the soil is dry, preferably in the morning or early afternoon to allow foliage time to dry before nightfall. This reduces the chance of fungal disease.

Bolivian Begonias - This tuberous group has some of the most exciting new introductions recently, mainly new cultivars (cultivated varieties) of Bolivia. As its name indicates, the Bolivian begonias originally came from the eastern sides of the Andes Mountains in Bolivia and Argentina. Although the subject of new breeding and introductions, this species was first introduced to Europe in 1864 by Robert Pearce—a plant explorer for the famous Veitch firm of England. This species was popular even then, such as when first exhibited in 1867 at the International Horticultural Show in Paris. There, it was said to have “attracted more of the attention, both of botanists and horticulturists, than any other plant then brought to that magnificent exhibition.” This species is of horticultural significance, as it was one of the species used by John Seden in breeding the first hybrid tuberous begonia.

The arching stems of the Bolivian begonia are clothed all summer in brilliant flowers, generally orange, pink or red. Flowers are in pairs or threes, and have four pointed segments often flaring at the ends. These fall off naturally when through bloom, so don’t need “deadheading”, and will be replaced continually with new flowers.

Leaves are pointed, of the angel-wing type. They form clumps spreading to two feet wide, and about one-foot high. Although plants may overwinter in the warmest climates in the ground as tubers, in the north they’re best used as annuals in pots or hanging.

Perhaps the most popular Bolivian begonia is ‘Bonfire’ with fiery orange flowers. Similar are the Waterfall series, originally from Holland, with ‘Angel Soft Pink’, ‘Encanto’ in both orange and red, and three colors of ‘Victoria’. The ‘Mistral’ series is available in red, dark red, and orange. A popular cultivar released in 2014, ‘Upright Fire’ is part of the Unstoppable series. ‘Lucky Strike’ is part of the Unbelievable series, having lemon-yellow inner petals and peach-colored outer petals. Other popular Bolivian series you may find include Bon Bon, Beaucoup, Crackling Fire, Million Kisses, and Sparkler.

With most the traditional shade impatiens no longer grown, due to downy mildew disease, this provides a great opportunity to try some of these new and colorful begonias.

Other crosses among tuberous species from the Andean mountains have led to such series as the Go-Go begonias. “Nonstop begonias”, which were first developed in Germany, are perhaps the most popular upright series of tuberous hybrids, with double blooms in many colors. They are sensitive to day length, the longer days of summer leading too faster and more flowers, and better plant quality. Some of these tuberous hybrids, such as the Nonstop and Illumination begonias, can be started from seeds. This saves on cost, but plants Source: Begonias, To Brighten Shade, The Green Mountain Gardener Leonard Perry University of Vermont Extension Service


In late summer, there's no flower like the lily and their perfumes will not your sox off. The bulbs cost much more than a bunch of pennies in a canning jar, but when you consider that each one produces a 4-foot stalk topped by six to ten giant and powerfully fragrant blooms, they're actually quite a bargain.

Lilies are loved by gardeners everywhere. These big, bright, and dependable flowers have an elegance that's unsurpassed. If you plant several different varieties, you can have blooms all summer long.

Though lilies look like they'd be fussy plants, they are actually very easy to grow. They're not particular about soil type or pH and they grow well in full sun, part sun, dappled shade and even light shade.

Stars of the perennial border, summer-flowering lilies are tall, colorful, majestic, and sometimes very fragrant, depending on the species. With huge, trumpet-shaped flowers borne on tall stems, lilies in full bloom are the focal point of any perennial garden.

It’s like going into a room full of people and one person stands out. Numerous types are available with flower colors that include pink, gold, red, orange, and white. Lilies bloom in early summer to fall, depending on the type. Some are extremely fragrant, and all make good cut flowers for large arrangements.

Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil.

Most lilies prefer slightly acidic soil, except Madonna lilies.

Plant lily bulbs in spring or fall, spacing plants 8 to 18 inches apart, depending on variety. Prepare garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole about 6 inches deep to set the bulb in, pointy end up. Fill the hole with soil and firm it gently. Water thoroughly. If hungry voles or mice are a problem, plant lily bulbs in buried wire cages to protect them from getting eaten.

Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Stake tall varieties to keep them upright. As flowers fade, cut back the flower stalks to the base of the plant. Depending on the type. Some are extremely fragrant, and all make good cut flowers for large arrangements. Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. Most lilies prefer slightly acidic soil, except Madonna lilies.

Plant lilies as soon as you get them. Because the bulbs lack the papery covering (known as a "tunic") that is common to other hardy bulbs, they can dry out quickly in storage.

Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil.

Even more than other bulbs, lilies demand well-drained soil. Dig the spot where you plan to plant lilies to a depth of at least 12 inches, remove rocks and add organic matter, such as leaf mold or peat moss to improve both the soil's structure and drainage. Like other bulbs, lilies appreciate a little bone meal scratched in at the bottom of the planting hole, but do not really require other fertilizers at planting time. Instead, wait until the bulbs send up green leaves and then sprinkle a complete organic fertilizer around the plant and water it in.

Spread an organic mulch around lilies to help keep the soil moist and cool; use compost, well-rotted manure, or a longer-lasting mulch, such as bark mulch, wood chips or cocoa shells. As with other perennials, it's a good idea to cover the bed over the winter with straw and/or evergreen boughs to help protect the bulbs from freeze-thaw cycles.

During the flowering season, remove spent blooms, but try not to cut off more than a third of the stem, which can reduce the plant's vigor and longevity. If you are growing lilies strictly for indoor arrangements, consider planting them in a designated cutting garden, where you can plant fresh bulbs each year.

Uses of Lilies

The oil extracted from lilies has healing and softening properties. Especially, when the lily fragrance oil is mixed with that of calendula, it works wonderfully for very sensitive skin. Lily oils can be used for massage, in a bath, after a bath, for babies, dry cuticles and elbows, as a facial moisturizer, under-eye oil and hot-oil treatment.

There are Lilies and there are Lilies

Many kinds of flowers have been called "Lilies" but many of these so-called lilies such as the water-lily, and arum-lily, actually belong to other groups of flowering plants. And please don’t get lilies mixed up with daylilies. They aren’t the same plant.

I prefer daylilies to lilies, as they are tough, hard to get rid of and the critters don’t like them. I know they aren’t as showy and don’t have all those fragrances that bowl us over, but … well, you catch my drift. Perhaps, the reason is that I had a teacher in the sixth grade who doused herself with large quantities of perfume and to this day, I run long distances when I’m around that smelly stuff except of course for the peonies, which bowl me over.

True Lilies are composed of fleshy scales without a protective outer coating. True Lilies are never dormant. Lilies are propagated mainly by means of bulbs. They are also grown from seeds, scales, bulbils and bulblets. One can buy lily bulbs online or from a local bulb vendor.

Although the lilies grown from seeds are more disease resistant, the only disadvantage with growing lilies from seeds is that the lily plants take a longer time to bloom, and maybe, in some cases, even take five to six years. Hence, bulbs are very much preferred.

Types of Lilies

Many gardeners don't realize that there are several different types of lilies, and each blooms at a different time during the summer. By planting a few bulbs of each kind, you can have lilies in bloom literally all summer long.

Asiatic lilies (Asiatic hybrids) start the season in early to mid-summer. Most have upward-facing flowers and all are hardy in zones 4 to 9. To extend the Asiatic lily season, consider planting LA Hybrids, a relatively new type of lily. These plants produce larger flowers than most Asiatics, with the delicious fragrance of the Easter lily. LA Hybrids grow to 30 inches high and come in a range of clear, bright colors from cream through pink, peach, yellow, orange and red.

Turk’s cap – are the next lilies to flower. Growing 3-to-4 feet tall, they have dainty, 3-inch flowers with petals that curve backward (recurved), and up to 20 blooms on each stem. All Turk's Cap Lilies are hardy in Zones 3 to 9.

Trumpet lilies - bring us flowers in Midsummer. These elegant bloomers are named for their trumpet-shaped flowers, and all are hardy in zones 5 to 9. The Trumpet Lilies can be divided into two subcategories: Aurelian hybrids: The taller of the two, these lilies can reach 5 feet tall. Easter Lilies - known for their huge, trumpet-shaped, outward-facing blooms. Most are quite fragrant.

Tiger lilies - stand 3 to 4 feet tall and have large, freckled, pendulous blooms with recurved petals. Tiger lilies are very hardy (zones 3 to 9) and will multiply to form large clumps over the years. They are happy almost anywhere, producing a dozen or more flowers on each stem. Colors are typically in the warm range, from golden yellow through orange and into reds.

Rubrum Lilies - resemble the Tiger Lilies because they too have recurved petals. However, the color range is cool—from white to deep pink — and the blooms are sweetly fragrant. These are the favorites of many gardeners.

The season ends with a bang when the Oriental Lilies start to bloom. Intensely fragrant, with huge, flat blossoms that can be up to 10 inches across, Oriental Lilies are a fabulous in the garden or in a vase. Intensive breeding efforts have widened the range of colors. A new relative of the Oriental Lily is something called the Oriental Trumpet Lily, a hybrid created from Trumpet Lilies and Oriental Lilies. The result has the best qualities of its parents: upward-facing blooms and intense fragrance.

Trumpet lilies are one of the first to bloom. Two old-time favorites are Regale and Golden Splendor with an aroma of spice. Another lily is an orange trumpet called African Queen. Trumpets are just as fragrant as Oriental lilies, but their fragrance is more complex and mysterious.

There are dozens of Oriental lily varieties. One of best things about having so many different varieties that is they each have a slightly different bloom time. Plant a bag of mixed Oriental lily bulbs, and you'll have lilies in bloom for six to eight weeks.

Rubrum lilies are the latest lilies that bloom in gardens — sometimes as late as October. The flowers are recurved, which means the petals curl back away from the center of the flower. They're also pendulous, so are downward facing. The rubrum is a species lily, meaning the plants we grow in our gardens are similar to those that are found in the wild. For many these lilies are just as beautiful and fragrant as the hybridized trumpets and Orientals. Rubrums can be planted in shade gardens and will appear out of nowhere, well after the rest of the garden has given up.

Fragrances - The Trumpet lilies have fragrances which are not as strong as some of the Orientals. The Oriental lily "Rosario" smells like candy. "Henry's Surprise" a yellow spotted Asiatic lily, one of the few Asiatics which has a scent smells like cream. Umm! I’ve heard that 'Amarone' is a great lily to bury your nose into the blooms, despite the pollen for 'Amarone'. And what can be better than Easter lilies. The “Chuckster” commented, “I don’t want to say anything, but those lilies make me dizzy, especially the Easter ones. After a whiff, I wanna jump in the mud or the snow depending on the weather.”

The Lily Leaf Beetle - Colorful, hardy lilies have been a perennial garden mainstay for generations. Sadly, in some parts of the country gardeners have all but given up on these beauties, because of a small, red beetle with an insatiable appetite for lily foliage. Left unchecked, the lily leaf beetle devours leaves, leaving a bare, scarred stem in place of the usual sturdy stalk laden with flamboyant, trumpet-shaped blooms. Researchers are studying the effectiveness of introducing some of this exotic pest's natural enemies; in the meantime, there are safe, organic ways to help keep the pest in check. In regions that have been invaded by beetle, it takes diligence to protect lily plants. But that makes the rewards — glorious flowers and, in some cases, delightful fragrance — all the sweeter.

Accidentally introduced into North America through Montreal, Quebec, in 1943, and discovered in Massachusetts during the summer of 1992, the scarlet lily leaf beetle wreaks havoc in flower gardens wherever it travels. As of June 2012, it has been found in all six New England states, New York and, most recently, near Bellevue, Washington.

The lily leaf beetle lays eggs and completes its life cycle exclusively on true lilies (daylilies are not affected). Oriental, rubrum, tiger and trumpet lilies as well as Oriental trumpets (and Turk's cap lilies and native North American lily species are all vulnerable, but the beetle prefers some types more than others. Research at the University of Maine shows that Asiatic lilies are the most vulnerable, while some Oriental lilies are more resistant. The most resistant lily cultivars in their tests were 'Madame Butterfly', 'Uchida', and ‘Black Beauty'. The beetles may also be having an impact on populations of native Canada lily, as well as other rare and endangered lily species found in northeastern North America.

Biological control using natural lily leaf beetle predators shows the most promise for controlling the spread of this invasive scourge. Although the beetle has no natural predators in North America, the University of Rhode Island Biological Control Laboratory, in collaboration with CABI-Bioscience and colleagues in France, has identified several European insects that parasitize the lily leaf beetle grubs. The ant-sized parasitic wasps lay eggs on the beetle grubs, which subsequently hatch and kill their host. These insects have been released at research sites in all New England states and are proving effective at decreasing the lily leaf beetle populations for at least several miles in the surrounding areas. These controls are not yet commercially available for gardeners, but show long-term promise. See the reference section for links to more information.

For now, gardeners have a few options for dealing with this destructive pest. Hand-picking the adult beetles is very effective if you have only a few lily plants. But you need to be vigilant and fast. The beetles are very quick and as soon as they sense movement, they will immediately drop to the soil level and lie on their backs, which makes them difficult to find. Use this habit to capture and destroy the adults by holding a jar of soapy water under them and nudging them off the leaf. They will immediately fall into the water. Scout your plants several times a week, especially early in the season as the adults emerge from the soil.

Adults lay egg masses under the lily leaves or along the stem and they must be destroyed quickly — they hatch in just 7 to 10 days. You can either pick off the leaf and drop it in the jar of soapy water or crush the eggs. They are very tiny and hard, so it takes some focused effort to make sure they've been crushed.

The larvae are the most difficult to control. Hand-picking is an option, but it requires almost daily patrols and careful observation. Squishing the larvae is tricky because they're covered with excrement, so they slip easily between your fingers. Wear latex or nitrile gloves. It's often easier to pick off the whole leaf and drop it into the jar than to squish them.

There are two pesticides that have proven to be relatively effective. The first is neem oil, a botanical insecticide made from the neem tree. Neem kills larvae and repels adults. It is most effective early in the season and on young larvae and must be diligently applied every 5 to 7 days. The larvae's "fecal shield" seems to provide it with some protection from sprays, so spray coverage must be heavy and complete. Late-season larvae seem to be somewhat resistant to neem. Neem comes from the crushed seeds of the Neem tree, which grows in tropical areas. I planted them in Nicaragua as a fast-growing shade tree many years ago.

Another product that shows promise is Spinosad, derived from a soil-dwelling bacterium. If used regularly at the first sign of the beetles, you can control them. Its drawback is that it is harmful to bees during spraying, but not after it has dried. I would not recommend using pyrethrum or rotenone – two organic controls. Carbaryl is a dangerous synthetic chemical insecticide, which goes under the tradename of Sevin. Rotenone can no longer be used by organic growers. My preference is Neem and Spinosad comes in second.

Source: Controlling Lily Leaf Beetles

Ann Whitman, Gardener’s Supply


There are bulbs, corms and tubers to suit all sites and soil types. Here are some of our favorites for sunny and dry spots:

Aliums: Easy to grow, ornamental onions like these add height and structure to your borders. They like full sun and give you a wonderful assortment of flower shapes, sizes and colors. Superb for cut flower displays too.

Iris: Drought-tolerant bearded irises have exceptional resistance to disease and insects. The first flowers appear in spring, with a second flush in autumn. Hard-working, hardy perennials.

Lilies: Easy to grow and often fabulously fragrant. Plant these in autumn, either in full sun or semi shade.

Gladioli: Plant these sun-loving blooms in spring (and stagger the planting in batches if you can) to enjoy colorful, richly-scented blooms right through to early autumn.

Tulips: Tulip bulbs like to be planted in autumn in a position that will get full sun.

Dahlias: With Mexican origin, drought-tolerant Dahlias will cope well with hot, dry weather, blooming through the summer. Feed well, and protect young plants from slugs.

Barriers to Protect Bulbs - A barrier to protect your flower bulbs in the winter needs to be put in place when the flower bulbs are planted in the fall. You can choose one of the following methods to help keep your spring-blooming bulbs safe over the winter:

Tulips are a favorite of chipmunks, squirrels, and other rodents. Wrap bulbs in chicken wire mesh cages before planting in the fall to deter rodents. The holes will allow your bulbs’ leaves and roots to grow but will keep pesky rodents at bay.

By the way, daffodils can be poisonous to dogs and other animals. In most cases, your dogs won't eat daffodils but if they do, call your vet immediately as it could cause serious illness or death.

Add a layer of gravel – Place a layer of sharp-edged gravel or grit below and above your bulbs when you plant them. Most animals do not like to dig through sharp debris and will avoid going after your flower bulbs.

Strawberry baskets or yogurt cups – You can recycle strawberry baskets (the green plastic baskets that you buy strawberries in) or punch holes in the bottom of used yogurt cups and place your bulbs inside these. Both of these methods will protect your spring bulbs from underground attacks but can still leave them open to being dug up from above.

Repellents to Keep Rodents from Flower Bulbs

Repellents can work well for flower bulbs that have already been planted. However, these methods tend to be short-term and will need to be reapplied periodically, as time or weather will reduce their effectiveness.

Blood meal – Blood meal is the standard repellent for flower bulbs, as it not only helps to keep away small rodents but also adds nutrients to the soil. One downside of using blood meal is that it can attract other unwanted animals, like raccoons or skunks.

Predator animal hair or urine – Spreading the hair or urine from animals around your bulbs can help ward off small rodents by adding the scent of a predator to the area. You can use human, dog, or cat hair or urine. Human hair can be obtained from beauty salons and dog hair from dog groomers; spreading used kitty litter around your bulbs will add the scent of cat urine.

Chili pepper – Powdered or liquid chili pepper can help deter rodents from dining on your flower bulbs. Sprinkle the area around your bulbs liberally with this fiery stuff to keep rodents away.

Plant un-tasty bulbs – Most rodents will avoid eating daffodils, snowflakes, snowdrops, allium, and squill. You can plant only these or try interplanting the unpalatable bulbs with the more vulnerable bulbs like tulips, crocus, and gladioli.

Forcing Bulbs in Winter - Pot up some crocus, tulip, and/or daffodil bulbs in the fall. Let them lie dormant in a cool 40- to 45-degree Fahrenheit room for about three months, allowing the bulbs the dormancy period they need. Make sure to water them now and then. By late February, bring them into a warm room and watch for the green shoots as they begin to grow. By April, when it’s often still gray outside, you will have colorful blooms inside. Once the forced bulbs have bloomed, they generally won't have enough energy to reflower in the garden -- except perhaps for daffodils – so off to the compost they will need to go.