Planting for summer: seeds and bulbs to plant now

Published 16th April 2017 by Michelle

April is a key month to do a little work so your outdoor urban garden is stunning come the summer. Imagine warm nights, sat out among pots of beautiful flowers, sipping on a glass of wine, maybe with a few friends, maybe eating a salad freshly picked from your urban garden. Sounds like heaven to me! And you can achieve all this by spending a little time planting seeds and bulbs in April, even if you only have a few pots to plant them in.

Summer flowering bulbs, corms and tubers

You can plant any bulbs, corns or tubers labelled as ‘summer flowering’ in March or April. My favourites include lilies, anemone de caen, sparaxis, Gladiolus murielae and dahlias. Corns and tubers are similar to bulbs and the only major differences are biological. In other words, you plant and look after them in the same way as bulbs.

I covered how to plant bulbs in my previous post on planting spring bulbs. The same process applies to summer bulbs but you need to water them more often after planting since it will likely rain less this time of year. About 1-2 times per week should be fine, but during hot spells you may need to increase this to every other day. Stick your finger in the soil in the plant pot to check if its dry, if it is, water the plant.


Anemone de Caen (comes with purple, red and cream flowers)



Dahlia 'Arabian Night'

Flower, herb and veg seeds

There are many flower, herb and veg seeds you can plant now which will be flowering or ready for harvest come the summer. Here are some of my favourites:

– Flowers: Meadow flower seed mix, sweet peas (which are inedible but have beautiful flowers), sunflowers, poppies, borage, love-in-a-mist

– Herbs: chives, coriander, dill, parsley. Wait till May/June to plant seeds or young plants of herbs associated with warmer climes (e.g. coriander, oregano, basil, thyme).

– Vegetables: parsnips, leeks, broad beans, radishes, kale, beetroot, spinach, salad leaves.

Many seeds need to be grown indoors or under cover first before being transplanted, but all of the seeds mentioned above can be sown directly where they will grow outside. Using these seeds makes it quick and easy to grow beautiful flowers, herbs and veg in your urban garden this summer.

Sweet Pea

Oriental Poppy 'Beauty of Livermere'

Mixed meadow flowers


How to plant seeds directly where they will grow:

1\ If planting in a container fill the container with multipurpose compost to 1 ½ inches from the top of the pot. If planting in the ground dig the ground over to loosen up the soil and remove any weeds or big stones.

2\ Next, with flower or herb seed, scatter seed over the top of the soil. With vegetable seed sow seed in lines spaced according to the back of the seed packet.

3\ Sprinkle a thin layer of multipurpose compost over the seeds. Use a fork or rake to lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.

4\ Give a light sprinkling of water. Keep lightly watering the seeds as they grow, and increase watering as they become young and adult plants.


Radish (often the first crop ready for harvest)

Other veg and fruit to plant

Sow tomato, aubergine, pepper and chilli seeds indoors in April. Look after them indoors till early June when you can move them outdoors, or continue to grow them indoors if you prefer (see my previous post on how to grow tomatoes, chillies and peppers indoors).

You can also sow seed potatoes in large pots or in the ground this month. Potatoes come in ‘early’ varieties (plant March-April, harvest from July) and ‘maincrop’ varieties (plant in April, harvest from August). Early varieties are what we know as new potatoes, while maincrop potatoes are normally larger. Before planting seed potatoes, put them in an open egg box with the eyes facing up and keep them on an indoor windowsill to encourage them to start sprouting (this process is known as chitting). They are ready to plant when the sprouts are about 3cm long. Put about 20cm of compost in the bottom of a large container, space the seed potatoes about 20cm apart and cover them with a few centimetres of soil. Leave them for a week or so, and as stems start breaking through the soil, add a new layer of soil to cover them up. Keep doing this until the container is full, and then allow the plant to grow till July or August when the potatoes are ready to harvest. Remember to water regularly the whole time the potatoes are growing.

Finally, this is the time of year to plant strawberries. Strawberry plants are available cheaply so I prefer not to sow them from seed. Each strawberry plant should give you fruit for about three consecutive years. Plant them in a sunny spot, give them some fertiliser and keep them well watered. Strawberry plants grow well in window boxes and hanging planters. Fruit should be ready to harvest in June/July. After they have finished fruiting, cut back the old leaves. The following spring, give the plants some fertiliser to ensure a good crop.

Potatoes growing in a pot

Harvested early potatoes

A little April effort = fantastic summer urban garden

I hope this has inspired you to get out in your urban garden this weekend and plant up some pots to admire or harvest come the summer. Have a great weekend!

Until next time,

Michelle x