Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > September 2017 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--Bulbs Not Blooming?

BONNIE'S GARDEN--Bulbs Not Blooming?

It happens to all of us—that patch of bulb foliage that comes up in the spring, but no flowers follow.    We wait, we hope, but---nothing.  There are several reasons this can happen.          
  1.  Some bulbs—like daffodils--split and divide.  Over time, the baby bulbs grow up and begin competing with their parent bulbs for food and nutrients.    Dig up the bulbs and separate them and replant, spacing about six inches apart.  Just like fall is the time to plant spring-blooming bulbs, it’s also the best time to dig and divide spring blooming bulbs.  This alone may rejuvenate a "tired" planting.
  2. Most bulbs are tough and durable but after several years, they’ve used up a lot of the available nutrients in the soil.  If you’ve already divided them, then try fertilizing them.  Fall is the best time to feed all spring-blooming bulbs.  I usually wait until early to mid-October.  If you forget to feed them then, you can do it in the spring as soon as the leaves appear.  It may not have time to affect whether or not the bulbs flower this spring or not, though.
  3. So you’ve divided and fed and the bulbs are still not blooming?  Now, you need to check the environment.  Many people think all bulbs are shade tolerant.  Not all bulbs are.  There are bulbs that will tolerate PART-shade but when planted near trees, we forget that the trees get bigger over time. What used to be part-shade has become mostly shade. 
While tulips and alliums are not remotely shade tolerant there are other bulbs that are. The earlier blooming daffodils will do fairly well under trees because they grow and bloom before the trees even finish leafing out.  They also don’t mind the dry shade under trees during the summer, because the bulbs are asleep then anyway.  Other early spring bloomers, like Snowdrops, Scilla Siberica (Siberian Squill), Winter Aconite (aka Winter Buttercups) and crocus will work here, too.
Other choices are Hyacinthoides—also known as Wood Hyacinths or Spanish or English Bluebells.  These are later spring blooming flowers in blue, pink or white that grow pretty rosettes of leaves with 10” tall flower spikes.  And, the winter-hardy Cyclamens thrive in the dry shade under trees.  There is Cyclamen Coum with late winter flowers and Cyclamen Neapolitanum with fall flowers.
And then there are those sweet little Muscari or Grape Hyacinths that naturalize into pretty drifts over time. And, my favorite bulbs of all—the Ipheion or Spring Starflower which has pretty star-shaped flowers in pale lavender or shades of blue that last an incredibly long time in mid-spring.
Posted: 9/18/2017 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: bulbs
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