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7 Bulbs to Grow in Containers This Summer

By | April 3, 2019

Potted Bulbs

Blooming baskets, plentiful pots, and colorful containers are a simple way to add color to your home all season. The versatility of planting flowers and even vegetables in a container is appealing for gardeners of all skill levels and property types. For gardeners like me with a smaller city lot and a lot of shade, planting flowers and bulbs in containers and hanging baskets creates a welcoming and warm feeling.

For a few years, my sister lived in a condo in Chicago. When going out to brunch I would look around and admire the hanging baskets that were cascading with foliage and blooms over the balconies. My sister would also decorate her balcony with flowering containers, and I was fortunate to be able to help suggest some good plants for her pots. People in large cities often live in apartments and condos and may not have any yard or green spaces to plant in and in those cases, container gardening is a very popular choice. Homeowners with small spaces like me or folks in the big cities can enjoy their favorite annuals, perennials, and vegetables by planting in containers.

Regardless of the property type homeowners will be able to add curb appeal by filling hanging baskets and planters with blooms at the entry of their homes. Traditional container gardens are often planted with annuals and bedding plants purchased from a local garden center or home store. While planting annuals in containers can be appealing due to the long bloom time and the instant impact they offer, it can also become expensive planting pre-potted annual flowers in containers. Filling your containers with summer-blooming bulbs will provide a summer full of color, but does require more patience as it generally takes summer bulbs 4-6 weeks to sprout. Waiting for your summer-blooming bulbs to sprout is fun, exciting and can help you save some money on your container plants.

If you are new to planting in containers or growing bulbs in pots and need some container garden ideas don’t worry! Here are suggestions of 7 flower bulbs that grow well in containers.

7 Bulbs to Plant in Pots

Begonia Varieties

  1. Begonias

    My favorite summer blooming bulb for hanging baskets and containers are tuberous begonias! Why are they my favorite? Well, it may be a product of circumstance considering they bloom very well on my partially shaded entryway. But, begonias are my favorite most likely because of their carefree and showy blooms. Tuberous begonias are available in mostly warm colors; red, orange, yellow, and pink. Planting warm colors in an entryway in hanging baskets and planters creates a warm and inviting feeling. Begonias are well known as a shade plant; however, they do require at least 4 hours of sun each day to produce flowers. Double begonias, ruffled begonias, and roseform begonias are lovely for containers, as they are more upright in growth habit. Hanging basket begonias can be planted in hanging baskets, as well as patio railing planters where the blooms and foliage can cascade over the edge of the planter. Tuberous begonias can also be used as an accent plant in your containers mixed with foliage plants like caladium, or sweet potato vine you purchase from a local garden store. To get the most out of your begonias click here for the complete guide to getting the most out of your begonia tubers this summer.

    Calla Lilies

  2. Calla Lilies

    Popular in floral arrangements, wedding boutonnieres, and corsages calla lilies also make excellent flowers for container gardens. The tropical looking blooms appear in mid-summer and last for several weeks. Calla lily blooms come in an array of colors such as yellow, pink, orange, and purple, white calla lilies being the most popular. Some calla lilies such as Albomaculata Calla Lily and Millenium Queen Calla Lily have spots on the leaves, which adds interest when the plants are not blooming. Calla lilies are best suited for a pot or container; I do not suggest planting them in a hanging basket. Most varieties of calla lilies grow 1-2′ tall maximum, with a more narrow habit, making them ideal for small patio and tabletop containers. Calla lilies can be used as a vertical accent with low growing annuals that spill over the edges. For mid-summer color and blooms, plant a whole container with just calla lilies; simple, colorful and bright! For the best results plant calla lilies in a sunny location that gets 6 or more hours of sun per day, and when the bulbs are actively growing, be sure to provide plenty of water!

    Dwarf Canna Lilies

  3. Dwarf Canna Lilies

    Canna Lilies are a favorite amongst gardeners in all climates, even in cold climates where the bulbs do not survive the winter. Cannas are enjoyed for their bold, lush leaves and showy flowers. They provide a tropical look in the garden; even in the coldest of gardens. In ideal conditions and depending on the variety of canna lily you are planting, cannas can range from 2′ tall up to 6′ tall! Tall cannas generally grow 4-6’+ for most containers 6′ is going to be a bit too tall. Therefore, if you wanted to add a tropical feeling to your containers you will want to plant a variety of dwarf canna lilies. Canna lilies are sun and heat-loving favorites that attract hummingbirds and are an effective vertical accent in planters. Just 1 rhizome in a container for the vertical accent is enough to make an impact especially when other low growing annuals and bulbs are planted in the container. Depending on the size of your container, you may want to keep it simple and fill it with only canna lilies. Varieties such as Red Futurity Canna Lily and Pink Futurity Canna Lily have bronze/purple foliage which can help add color to your garden, even before the blooms appear!

    Border Dahlias

  4. Border Dahlias

    The majority of dahlia varieties will grow too large for most containers. Very large containers can house larger growing varieties of dahlias, however, most homeowners will be planting in a medium to small size planter. Therefore, dahlias that grow smaller such as border dahlias work well for long blooming summer container plants. Dahlias are known for their showy and colorful blooms that look terrific in the garden as well as vases. Border dahlias have smaller diameter blooms, generally 2-4″ in diameter and shorter stature. Most border dahlias reach a maximum height of 2′ making them an excellent choice for small patio planters and pots at the front entryway of your home. Dahlias require a sunny location that receives 6+ hours of sun a day to produce the most blooms. Therefore, planting dahlias on your sunny patio in planters is a valuable way to add bright, colorful blooms all summer!

    I have always enjoyed plants with dark foliage, and Pulp Fiction Dahlia is one of my favorite dahlias for container gardening. The deep red blooms stand out against the deep purple foliage. When planted with plants that have chartreuse foliage such as pineapple lily, coleus or sweet potato vine, the dark leaves and red blooms really stand out against the chartreuse foliage.


  5. Caladium

    Flowers shouldn’t get to have all the fun in container plantings, foliage is important too! Plants that are valued for their foliage such as elephant ear, hosta, and caladium are great filler plants for your containers. Foliage plants add substance to your containers and give a nice background for the showy flowers to stand out against. Caladiums are one of the best foliage plants for shaded garden areas such as shaded patios, and entryways. If you are able to start your caladium bulbs in pots prior to planting it will help the bulbs to get a jump start on growth prior to when you are able to plant them outside. Caladium bulbs need a lot of heat in order to sprout, and if planted in cold, damp soil have a tendency to rot. Caladium bulbs look best when planted with other plants that flower such as begonias, or impatiens.


  6. Curcuma

    A relatively new bulb to me this year is the tropical and colorful curcuma. The leaves are glossy, green and lush on these bulbs native to Thailand, Laos and other south Asian countries. The blooms are unique spikes of cup-shaped petals in shades of pink and red. I am hoping I have enough sun to try planting curcuma in my front planters this year, as I have been told they are easy to grow and bloom for a long time! Reaching a maximum height of 2′ cucurma are well suited for containers of all sizes, either as a vertical accent or the main focus of the planter. Since curcuma are native to tropical areas, they will require a sunny location and during the growing season about 1″ of water per week. If you want a unique centerpiece for your containers and patio planters I suggest giving the Banrai Red Curcuma, Sweet Memory Curcuma or Manee Siam Curcuma a try this summer!

    Pineapple Lily

  7. Pineapple Lily

    Pineapple Lilies are another unique and tropical looking bulb, which is why I enjoy planting them in containers. Pineapple lilies are easy to grow and come in green as well as purple tones (my two favorite colors). The leaves are wide and strap-shaped which help fill the lower portion of the planter. When the pineapple lily begins blooming in mid-summer the blooms will wow your friends, and create a topic of discussion. Shaped similar in appearance to pineapple the lime green starry petaled flowers have burgundy accents, once the flowers begin to dry the flowers retain an attractive appearance. Sparkling Burgundy Pineapple Lily is a purple leafed variety with light pink and purple blooms, it is another dark leafed favorite of mine for container gardening. Since pineapple lilies are so unique in appearance they often can be planted alone in a container to be the true stars of the container.

Container Gardening With Summer Bulbs

Planting in your baskets, and planters for summer blooms is fun, and also an effective way to add color high and low. The bulbs mentioned above will grow well in containers and can be planted alone in the container or used as an accent when mixed with perennials and annuals. I generally like to have a mix of bulbs, annuals, and perennials in my containers to get the most blooms, colors, and textures. During the hottest parts of summer, your patio planters and hanging baskets will need frequent water. So if you have summer vacation plans, it may be a good idea to find a friend or family member to keep your summer containers well hydrated. Fertilizing with a bulb food such as Espoma Bulb Food will help retain resources necessary for your summer blooming bulbs to continue putting their best blooms forward.

Container gardening is popular because most people, whether they live in apartment, condo, or house have some outdoor space available for a container or ten! Fill your baskets, patios, planters, and pots with summer blooming bulbs this summer for long-lasting impact! Once your baskets and planters are full of summer blooms share your photo’s of your summer blooming bulbs in containers here with Holland Bulb Farms!

Need Gardening Help?

If you need any help with gardening or if you have plant-related questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to Jenny San Filippo. She can provide you with the knowledge and tools needed to succeed with your next project!

Contact Jenny

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