By Jodi Torpey
Some garden plants look a lot tougher than they are. Although their flowers and foliage stand up to summer’s heat, they can’t survive winter’s freezing Mountain region temperatures.
These tender bulbs and tuberous roots lend vivid color to summer gardens but need to be stored inside during the coldest months. Here are four ideas for using these special plants to add something new to your garden:
Fill in large areas.
There’s a reason canna plants make a big splash in city parks and expansive landscapes. Their showy foliage and tall, frilly flowers make a spectacular statement when planted in masses.
Elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) is another tender plant with large, heart-shape leaves that add excitement to the garden. Because elephant ear grows well in containers, it makes a nice privacy screen for a patio, balcony, or deck.
Add a riot of color.
Dahlias are striking summer flowers that show up in different shapes, sizes and colors. Blooming from midsummer to fall, dahlias add vibrant color to flower borders, hanging baskets, and patio containers. They make nice cut flowers too.
Dinner-plate dahlias are especially stunning because their flowers live up to their name, with blossoms that can grow to 10 inches wide.
Recycle favorite flowers.
Begonias are often grown as annuals, but they’re more than one-season plants. You can store tuberous begonias over the winter. Wait for the foliage to die before digging up the tubers and letting them dry for storing.
Other favorite summer bulbs include freesias, alliums, gladioli, and lilies. Whether bulbs or tuberous roots, wait to dig them up about two weeks after the first killing frost in fall. Wash and dry them, and store them over winter indoors in vermiculite, kitty litter, or sawdust.
As soon as the danger of frost has passed in spring, take the tender bulbs from storage, then plant and enjoy them for another season of summer color.
How will you use summer flowers in your landscape this season?