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Unusual summer-flowering bulbs to plant in spring

We asked a Which? Local-recommended garden centre about unusual summer-flowering bulbs which can be planted in spring.

Nerine flower

The Nerine – a welcome splash of colour in September

Member question: 'Can you recommend some unusual summer-flowering bulbs that I can plant in spring?'

There are lots of interesting summer-flowering bulbs that we can grow here in the UK. Many of the unusual ones originate from far flung countries of the world. Here are five favourites:

Galtonia Candicans AGM

Galtonia Candicans AGM

Often called the summer Hyacinth, this grows to 110cm tall, producing a graceful spike of white flowers in mid-summer.

It has a long flowering period and is attractive to bees.

A great addition to a mixed herbaceous border.


Gladiolus Mureliae AGM

Gladiolus Mureliae AGM

Unlike its more showy cousins, this Gladioli can be easily integrated into a mixed border to add glamour and interest without being too dominating.

It stands at around 1m tall producing fragrant white flowers which have eye catching blotched purple throats.

Like all gladioli they like a sunny, fertile spot.

This gladioli is also bee friendly – another good reason to plant it.



Camassias originate from damp fertile meadows in North America.

They flower in late spring/early summer in subtle shades of blue to white.

They are growing in popularity due in large part to their ease of cultivation and versatility.

They look fantastic in a wild flower meadow but can also be part of a more shady woodland-style planting scheme.




Nerines are unusual in that as the last of the summer flowers are dying off these wonderful cheery flowers are just coming into their own.

Originating from South Africa, they need to be planted somewhere sheltered and sunny where there is good drainage.

The classic cultivar Nerine Bowdinii AGM produces an eye-catching light pink flower – a welcome splash of colour on a grey September day.

Dracunculus vulgaris (Dragon arum)

Dracunculus vulgaris (Dragon arum)

For something really unusual you could try planting the Dragon arum – it needs a sheltered well drained spot in a sunny position.

In early summer they produce a large maroon purple flower which the RHS describe as 'foul' smelling. This plant is certainly a talking point!

About our expert trader

Louise Alhadeff from North One and West Six garden centres in London

Our expert: Louise Alhadeff

Louise Alhadeff is director with overall responsibility for plants at the North One and West Six garden centres in London.

She’s also day-to-day manager at the West Six branch.

Read reviews for North One garden centre