Summer colour: Begonia do well in a well drained pot and should bloom throughout the summer
AS we look forward to Summer we also look forward to our gardens improving. There are many ways in which we can do this. One way is to buy and plant seasonal flowers. This adds great colour and interest to any part of the garden. These flowering plants can also be placed in tubs, window boxes and hanging baskets. One drawback about buying fully grown plants for summer display is the price. Even a few plants for a few tubs can become quite expensive.
Growing Summer Flowering Bulbs
One way to avoid this expense is to grow your own. In all the stores at this time of year you will see packs of such summer flower bulbs as Lily, Begonia and Montbretia. These are relatively inexpensive to buy and are not too difficult to grow. Some good starter equipment would be some seed or potting compost, some pots, seed trays and some labels. With regard to labels, I prefer to buy the plastic white ones and write on them with a permanent marker. This avoids any confusion about which is which at any stage in the future ! Another good advantage of most of these flowering bulbs is that they re-appear year after year. If you do decide to grow summer flowering bulbs now it will need to be indoors or in a frost-free glasshouse.
Probably my most favourite summer flowering bulb is the Begonia. The flowers come in huge varieties of colours and forms. There are hanging forms, dwarf forms and contrasting forms. These are probably the best flowers for the typical summer weather we get in Ireland. They withstand a degree of wind and rain. They also seem to be immune to most pest and diseases - although slugs do take a liking to young shoots.
When planting Begonia ‘bulbs’ simply fill a seed tray up to three quarters full with potting or seed compost. Then simply push your ‘bulbs’ into the compost until all you can see are the tops of the ‘bulb’. Once you see some tiny shoots emerge from the top of the ‘bulb’ then you know you have success. Once the plants are large enough to handle you can pot on into individual pots. Once the last frost have passed-usually mid-May, you can plant the begonias outside. They will continue to flourish until hit with first hard frosts- usually in October. Once the bulbs have died down to ground level they can be lifted out and stored until next year.
Lilies are available for sale in the same places as Begonias. Planting instructions are similar to that of begonia. Lilies are better off being planted into pots- I find a 2 Litre pot is best. One major thing to remember about planting lilies is the angle of planting. This means that when you are planting the bulbs you must plant them at a 45-degree angle.
This prevents water from settling in the heart of the bulb. This then helps the bulb by preventing the onset of rot and decay.
Again, similarly, with Begonias the Lilies can be lifted in the autumn and store in-doors over the winter months.