By Brent West
We’ve been enjoying the blooms of spring bulbs for several months now. But you can continue to enjoy colorful blooms from bulbs or bulb-like plants in the summer or early fall. There’s a wealth of bulbs, rhizomes, corms and tubers that can be planted in April.
The following suggestions will get you started.
There are many of these on the market to choose from—some have huge blooms like the Allium giganteum or some are quite small like Allium moly. These plants require well-drained soil and sun or light shade for best growth. Depending on the variety you choose bloom time ranges from late spring to summer. Many of these blossoms make wonderful cut flowers and some can be successfully dried. Most of these are winter hardy in Mississippi.
Cannas are spectacular, tropical-looking plants that have attractive foliage as well as bold, colorful blooms. Some grow to a height of 5 feet or more, while dwarf selections can grow no taller than 2 feet. Plant in full sun and remove spent blooms to encourage flowering. There are selections with colorful, variegated foliage also. Although most reference books claim this plant is winter hardy only to Zone 8, it has overwintered successfully for many years in my Zone 7 garden.
These graceful plants are grown for their white, yellow, pink, or purple spathes. Callas love moist, rich soil and partial shade. They make wonderful accents near pools or fountains, and they’re long lasting as cut flowers. This plant is not reliably winter hardy in North Mississippi.
Other bulb-like plants that bloom in summer or early fall that you might want to try are lily-of-the-Nile (Agapanthus), rain lilies (Zephyranthes), tuberoses (Polianthes), naked lady (Amaryllis) and blackberry lily (Pardanthus).
Damage from the hopefully last freeze event this Spring should be obvious by now. Prune the dead and dying parts of your vegetable plants and apply a fungicide if you had to remove more than twenty percent of the foliage. the fungicide is to prevent fungi from entering the wounded parts of the plant.
Hollywood has Oscars, Broadway has Tonys, music has Grammys and vegetable gardening has All America Selections. Breeders are concentrating (pun intended) on developing vegetables for container gardening. All America Selections for 2014 include a new container eggplant, green bean, cucumber, and tomato varieties. These All American Selections may be in seed racks at garden centers, but they are available though catalogues.
Patio Baby F1 is an eggplant developed to grow no taller than two feet and produce three inch long classic round eggplants. It was selected by the northeast region of AAS and produces eating sized fruit in only six weeks from transplanting.
Mascotte is a two foot tall green bean plant that produces normal six inch long green beans. It is recommended for “window box” production.
Pick a Bushel F1 is a two foot wide cucumber developed for container gardening, It is recommended for climates a little drier than Mississippi’s so you would want to make sure the container is exposed to the wind as much as possible.
Fantastico F! is a new grape tomato developed to grow in eighteen inch hanging baskets ( larger than normal ) or containers. It is more crack resistant than other grape tomatoes and can be left on the plant slightly longer making the fruit both easier to harvest and sweeter.
Lelia Kelly, David Nagel