There’s nothing better than seeing bright bursts of floral colour in the garden come the summer months. If you’d like your garden to come to life with stunning blooms all season long, planting flower bulbs and tubers during the spring is a great way to make the most of your outdoor space with minimal effort required. Read on to find out when to plant summer bulbs to ensure you have a succession of elegant flowers come summer.

What summer flowering bulbs are there?

It’s common for many people to only associate bulbs with spring flowers such as tulips, daffodils, snowdrops and others. However, there are plenty of summer flowering varieties that can be successfully planted as bulbs to flower during the hotter months when all spring flowers have gone over.

There are many popular varieties available at Primrose for you to choose from. Find a list of some of our favourites below!


Dahlias are one of our most popular summer flower bulbs, in fact they’ve been a gardener’s favourite for many years. Renowned for their big dazzling blooms in all colours, shapes and sizes, you’ll certainly find a variety to suit you and your garden colour scheme. From dinner plate dahlias producing large, striking flower heads to smaller pom-pom dahlias with tightly packed petals resembling intricate origami, dahlias make wonderful cut flowers or a beautiful flower patch when planted en masse. 

To find out more about dahlias including how to plant them, read our ‘Complete Guide to Growing Dahlias’ guide.

pink pom pom dahlias

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The iconic lily is often seen in cut flower bouquets or romantic bunches at flower markets. Its striking qualities make it a top choice for anyone wishing to add elegance to their outdoor spaces. Available in delightful shades of red, pink, white, yellow and orange, lilies are well known for being included in perfumery thanks to their beautiful natural scent.

white speckled oriental lily

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Often known as sword lilies and one of the taller stems in the garden, Gladioli flowers are elegant, striking flowers that will be admired by all who visit your garden. Very distinctive in their appearance, these tall flower spikes emerge in a range of different colours and look fabulous when planted at the back of a border to add height. If you’re a fan of spectacular, majestic flowers then you’ll absolutely love these!

pink gladioli

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In fiery shades of orange, red and yellow, Crocosmia are multi-flowered perennials that will add warmth and brightness to your outdoor space. If you’re a fan of tropical or exotic looking plants, you’ll absolutely want to add Crocosmia to your collection. These vibrant flowers also make wonderful cut flowers for an exciting vase arrangement.

orange crocosmia flower

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Delicate and beautiful, the Iris is an elegant flower symbolising hope, courage and wisdom. Irises are moisture loving and can grow well in a number of locations (from river banks to rockeries and well watered borders). You can find irises in an array of rich, bold colours such as blue, purple and yellow.

purple iris

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Peony flowers are arguably one of the most superb in the garden – they really need to be seen to be believed! Often found in opulent shades of pale pink, coral, and white, these effortless beauties will have you staring at them in awe. Be mindful that peonies do need a bit of time to get established, so it could take them until the following year to start flowering, but once they do you’ll be so happy you planted them.

pink peony flower

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When to plant summer flowering bulbs?

Once all chances of frost have passed, spring is the ideal time to plant summer flowering bulbs. Until you’re ready to plant them, store your bulbs in a cool, dry space. In the same way that you plant spring bulbs, plant them directly into warm, moist soil. Be sure to have good quality compost and organic matter to hand. If you’ve not planted spring bulbs before, follow our step by step instructions below as a guide.

Planting bulbs in the ground

  1. Dig a deep hole using a trowel or bulb planter. Plant most bulbs at 2 or 3 times their depth, but there are exceptions (Lilies: 15cm or 3 times their depth, Gladioli: 15cm deep, Crocosmia: 10cm or 3 times their depth, Dahlias: just below the soil surface (start them off in a pot under cover), Cannas: ensure that the top of the corm is just above the surface, Nerines: just below the soil surface)
  2. Place the bulbs in the hole. It’s best to place them so that the pointed end is faced upwards. Then space them apart, about 2 times their width is a good amount of space for most (apart from dahlias, dahlias should be spaced around 75 cm apart).
  3. Gently fill up the hole again with good quality compost and soil. You can stick a label in to make sure you don’t lose track of what variety goes where.
  4. Once planted, give the newly planted bulb a light watering.

Planting bulbs in containers

  1. To improve drainage, pop some shards of pottery in the bottom of your container. 
  2. Next add in some compost up to the level of deepness where you’ll plant your bulb.
  3. Add in your bulbs or tubers with the pointed end facing upwards.
  4. Top up the pot with more quality compost and give your newly planted bulb a good watering. You can also add a slow release fertiliser to give your bulb plenty of nutrients.

For more detailed advice on planting dahlia bulbs/tubers, visit our ‘Complete Guide to Growing Dahlias’ guide.