Fast Growing Summer Bulbs Which Children Will Enjoy

It is always good to pass on our love for gardening to our children, but if we want their gardening enthusiasm to stay with them for life we need to give them the extra carrot!

Sowing parsnip seeds which will take 3 weeks to germinate and another 7 months to grow will not encourage their love for gardening. The kids want to see a quick turnover!

Besides the obvious radish and pea seeds which are quick  growing, I would suggest ‘summer bulb’ planting, the shoot will emerge very soon after the bulb is planted, and on each subsequent visit to the garden or allotment they will see it growing higher and higher until the final satisfaction of seeing the flowers emerge.

There are many bulbs that can be found in the shops including some exotic ones but I would pick the following 3 as they are easy and quick to grow.

Planting Lily Bulbs

Lily bulbs should definitely be planted as soon as possible after buying in the spring. Lily bulbs in the shops have often been lifted at the end of last summer and if left too long outside the soil they can totally dry out.

new shoot of a 'tower lily' emerging with last years dead shoot to the left.
new shoot of a ‘tower lily’ emerging with last years dead shoot to the left

I was happy to see that the ‘tree lilies’ (that I wrote about during the summer ) the ones that can grow to 2m high, are now not just available by mail order but also in high street shops, I noticed them for sale in Wilkinsons under the name of ‘Tower Lilies’  @ £3.00 for 2 .

Planting Gladioli Bulbs

Gladioli will flower a few months after being planted. If you stagger the planting times then you can have flowering gladioli flowers the whole of summer. A few weeks after they finish flowering the bulb can be lifted and a new bulb will be found on top to be planted the following year. If left in the ground especially during a wet and cold winter the bulbs will not survive and therefore they need lifting – this can be a difficult task.

planting gladioli bulbs on netting

Top Tip when planting gladioli bulbs

Why not try the idea pictured above? Before planting put a strong netting in a shallow trench  just sticking out at the edges, then plant the bulbs – its child’s play! – then  cover with soil around double the depth of the bulb. At the end of winter you should be able to lift the netting , shake off the soil, remove the new bulb from  on top of the decayed last year’s bulb, ready for you to store in a frost free place over winter.

Top Tip when buying gladioli bulbs

When buying gladioli bulbs;  usually the larger the bulb size  the larger the flowering spike ( at least  14 flowers per stem)  so try to get at least  12/14 cm diameter bulbs. Keep in mind –  that some shops will sell the bulbs at a very cheap price but they will be very small bulbs, with very small flowers.

Planting Dahlia Tubers

Dahlias may be a bit more difficult to grow than the other 2 bulbs listed above but they will also give quick results. When buying dahlia tubers make sure they have at least a bit of stem attached, as the other part of the tuber ( the elongated potato like part, is only the food supply but does not have the shoots). If I were  buying Dahlia tubers in  March I would only buy them  if I can see a slight bud beginning to protrude from the stem of the tuber, otherwise it is most probably totally dried out, and if it already has shoots longer than a few cm. I would also leave it on the shop shelf.

dahlia tuber with bud
dahlia tuber with bud

For those that are not particular on a certain variety , I saw some really good size dahlia tubers in Lidl at an unbeatable price of £5 for 8. Wilkinson has also  a selection.

Let the kids help you planting them in the ground, keep the frosts and slugs away and  each plant can reward you with dozens of flowers , that are useful for cutting too. Why not give your child their own vase for them to fill with their own flowers, I am sure they will already begin to fill it next week with dandelions!

Good  Gardening to you all