While spring's tulips and hyacinths, dug in last autumn, are just now breaking ground, consider planting another batch of flowering bulbs for a second wave of color that can continue all summer. Maturing in a matter of weeks, and tolerant of occasionally dry soil, these summer-blooming bulbs offer a range of colors and heights—some up to 5 feet tall—making them an easy way to boost borders, foundation plantings, and patio containers.
Just as foolproof as the more familiar spring-blooming varieties, these bulbs don't need the winter chilling period to flower. Most require full sun—and can take the heat thanks to their underground energy stores—though some are equally happy under a leafy tree. As with all bulbs, well-drained soil is a must, so avoid planting them in muddy, low-lying areas. It's safe to get them in the ground at around the same time as tomatoes, when the soil reaches about 60 degrees F; in cold climates they can be started earlier indoors, then transplanted. Another bonus: Most naturalize readily, filling beds with drifts of new plants within a few years. When borders overflow, divide plants to spread around the garden—or the neighborhood.
Though lesser known, these bulbs aren't hard to find; search them out at well-stocked nurseries and garden centers, or in mail-order or online catalogs. Read on for 10 robust bulb choices that are sure to make for a more colorful summer.
Shown: Planted in spring, a massed border of fiery red 'Lucifer' crocosmia makes a dramatic border come midsummer.