Summer bulbs can be planted out in UK gardens in spring, as soon as the soil begins to warm. Ideally, the soil temperature should be no lower than 13C, otherwise there is a chance the bulbs won’t grow and will begin to rot. Plant bulbs two or three times their own depth.

Soil that isn’t free-draining could also potentially cause bulbs to rot: err on the side of caution and open up the soil’s structure by digging in horticultural sand and organic matter. Most summer bulbs require full sun, and they will benefit from a high-potash regular feed when in flower. Continue watering them until the foliage has died right back.

Generally summer bulbs are not hardy, so will need to be lifted at the end of summer before the first frosts. Make sure you mark where you planted the bulbs in the first place, so that they’re easy to locate once the foliage and flowers have died back.


Arisaema costatum

A very sexy genus of darkly enchanting tubular flowers; they can be white, green, pink or burgundy and often have stripes or speckles. They like moist, well-drained neutral to acid soil in a shady spot, and should be planted at least 8in (20cm) deep. Cover with mulch in the autumn. Good in containers. Height: 15in (40cm).

Sea daffodil

Sea daffodil
Thought to be the ‘rose of Sharon’ mentioned in the Bible, Pancratium maritimum has white flowers that release a sublime perfume. Grow her in a deep pot of loam-rich compost and grit in the greenhouse or try her outside in sandy soil at the foot of a sun-baked wall. Height: 1ft (30cm).

Eucomis punctata

Pineapple flower
Eucomis has a barmy beauty – the leaves above the flower resemble a punk hair-do; the entire genus is fabulously exotic. Make sure you plant the bulbs deep enough (at least 6in/15cm), in well-drained soil in full sun. Water regularly in summer. Hardy, but in severe winters protect with a mulch. Height: 15in (40cm)

Tulbaghia violacea

Society garlic
Tulbaghia violacea is a firework explosion of soft-violet flowers above silver-grey leaves. The variegated forms are especially lovely. Best one to try: ‘Silver Lace’. Not reliably hardy. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun and mulch to protect from frost. Or keep in a pot and overwinter somewhere frost-free. Height: 17in (45cm).


Formerly known as Brodiaea, these airy feminine flowers are a great addition to the border in May/June. Long-lasting cream-white or blue starry flowers open in spacious clusters above bluebell-like foliage. Best one to try: ‘Corrina’ – lavender blue flowers. Grow in well-drained soil in full sun, planting them 4in (10cm) deep and apart. Height: 17in (45cm).