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Why Bulbs Don't Bloom

With the excitement of planting bulbs in the fall for a wonderful display in the spring, here is some insight to why bulbs don't bloom. And maybe, a hint or two for heading off some disappointment.

Storage Temperature and Moisture

Bulbs have been stored for a period before they are delivered to store for sale. Often, companies store in warehouses in bins and boxes that are way to hot or dry.

Bulbs in the ground after they have bloomed will acclimate themselves to temperatures above 80 degrees. But the storage for bulbs may have been above 80 degrees and this will deaden the flower bud. Daffodils, along with narcissus can tolerate the high temperatures but tulips cannot. What to check? A viable, fleshly tip!

During the growing summer months, bulbs in the ground receive moisture so they can insure future growth. This is different for a bulb in storage receiving no moisture. Once they are put out for sale in dry stores conditions can be brutal. Don't necessarily wait to the end of the season for the best sale. Buy your bulbs early and fresh and plant them.


Your second consideration is drainage. Consider this now while selecting a site instead of looking at puddles of water in the spring hoping for a bloom. Drowning and rotting is so sad for bulbs. The next time it rains check your low spots and do not plant there.


Thirdly, as in all plant materials, bulbs go through photosynthesis. Most bulbs require sunlight - full sun. When their leaves manufacture food, they get their energies from the sun. Consider your spring sunlight areas when selecting a site.


A surprisingly amount of bulbs do not bloom because they are just not there anymore. Surprised? Who dunit? Animals! Mice, chipmunks, squirrels, and voles do enjoy a bulb now and then. Planting in protective cages will help. Hot peppers in and around the planting hole may deter some animals. My recommendation is to keep a cat or dog. They tent to ward off critters (or catch them in the case of a cat). Truly, it works.

Some other problems

Bulbs struggle in the south because of soil temperatures. Consider proper selection of bulbs for your zone. Sometimes fooling Mother Nature with mulch might help but most often not.

Sometimes bulbs are not mature enough to bloom the first year they are planted. Try to select grade one bulbs.

Depth of planting may influence some bulbs and certainly plant the correct end up (although Mother Nature may correct that problem.)

Good luck and head off as many afflictions that you can.