Bulb Plants Are Not Flowering: Reasons Bulbs Won’t Bloom
By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Tulipsand daffodilsare the first signs of spring, eagerly anticipated after a long, cold winter.It’s a tremendous disappointment when, inexplicably, bulbs are not blooming.There are many possible reasons why your bulb plants are not flowering. Let’sdo some investigating.
Reasons for No Blooms on Flowering Bulbs
Sunlight: Areyour bulbs planted under the shade of a tall tree, or is something elseblocking sunlight? Flowering bulbs need at least six hours of bright sunlightper day.
Poorly drained soil:Bulbs need regular moisture, but they won’t tolerate soggy soil. If you thinkthis may be the reason why bulbs won’t bloom, dig up a couple and see if theyhave rotted. You may need to move your bulbs to a better location.
Poor quality bulbs:It doesn’t always pay to buy the cheapest bulbs, as they may produce small orscant blooms. Sometimes, poor quality bulbs don’t bloom at all.
Foliage was removedtoo soon: It’s tempting to remove foliage after flowering bulbs havebloomed, but green foliage absorbs sunlight that is converted into energy.Without the foliage, bulbs may not bloom the following year. It’s safe toremove the stems, but don’t remove the leaves until they turn yellow.
Fertilizer problems:Bulbs generally don’t require fertilizer unless the soil is very poor. If thisis the case, it may help to feed them a 5-10-10 fertilizer as soon as foliageemerges, and again after the bulbs bloom. A high-nitrogen fertilizer may alsobe to blame when bulbs won’t bloom, as it may produce lush foliage but notflowers. For this reason, you shouldn’t feed your bulbs with lawn food, whichis often high in nitrogen. Bonemeal, however, works well at planting time.
Overcrowding: Ifbulbs have been planted in the same place for several years, they may beovercrowded. To resolve this issue, just dig the bulbs and divide them andplant some of them elsewhere. This can be done after the foliage turns yellowand dies down in late spring.
New bulbs:Sometimes bulbs don’t bloom the first year. This is normal and doesn’t indicateany particular problem.
Disease: Bulbsaren’t generally susceptible to disease, but it’s possible a virus may be toblame when bulb plants are not flowering. Viral diseases are usually easy toidentify by mottled or streaky foliage. If you determine your bulbs have avirus, dig up all affected bulbs and dispose of them so the virus isn’ttransmitted to healthy bulbs.
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Read more about General Bulb Care
How to Make Paperwhite Bulbs Bloom Again
Paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) produce small, daffodil-like flowers on bluish-green stems. These dainty, fragrant flowers are white with yellow or white cup-shaped centers. Paperwhites can be grown indoors and forced to bloom during the holiday season. With the proper care, you can save and preserve paperwhite bulbs to bloom again. However, they do require time to replenish their energy stores, and may not re-bloom for two or three years. Paperwhites are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9.
Cut the flower stalks off at their bases once the blooms turn brown and die using a pair of pruning shears. Do not cut the foliage back.
Plant the bulbs in a 6-inch pot with soil if they are growing in pebbles and water. Fill the pot two-thirds full with potting soil. Tamp the soil down slightly. Remove the bulbs from the pebbles and place three to four of them in the container. Backfill the pot with soil until the bulbs are completely covered, with the shoots emerging from the soil's surface. Tamp the soil down around the bulb. Water the pot thoroughly.
Feed the paperwhites once only after you remove the last bloom. Use an all-purpose, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer, diluted to half strength. Read all package instructions and warnings before use.
Move the potted bulbs to sunny windowsill. Water the bulbs only when the top 1 inch of soil begins to dry out. Do not let the soil become completely dry while there is still foliage on the bulbs.
Cut off each leaf off when it turns brown and droops downward. Sever the leaf at the bottom-most point with a sharp pair of pruning shears.
Stop watering the bulbs once all leaves are gone. Allow the soil to dry out completely to initiate dormancy. Move the pot of bulbs to a dry, dark space with constant temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit for storage.
Move the bulbs back to a sunny windowsill in the fall when they begin to produce new shoots. Keep the temperature surrounding the bulbs between 60 and 65 F. Water the bulbs until the soil is thoroughly moist. Continue to water the bulbs once the top 1 inch of soil becomes dry. Do not worry if the bulbs do not develop flowers this season.
Allow the foliage to die back naturally as before. Repeat the process of removing the dead foliage and storing the bulbs. Repeat the entire cycle for one to two more years.
Re-pot the bulbs into their current container with new potting soil in the fall, four to eight weeks before you wish the blooms to appear. Dump out the pot's contents carefully, saving the bulbs and discarding the potting soil. Wash the inside of the pot and fill two-thirds full with new potting soil. Put the bulbs back in the pot and backfill with soil until the top 1-inch of each bulb remains uncovered. Tamp the soil down firmly around the bulbs and water the pot until the soil is thoroughly moist.
Place the pot in a dark room with cool temperatures of 45 to 55 F to allow the bulbs to establish new roots. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Move the bulbs to a 60 to 65 F room in full sunlight after three weeks, or when the shoots reach 2 to 3 inches tall. Water the bulbs when the top 1/2 to 1 inch of soil begins to dry. Never let the soil dry more than this between waterings. Place the pot in indirect sunlight when the blooms appear.
Things You Will Need
All-purpose, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer
You may plant the bulbs in the ground outdoors instead of storing them in a pot indoors if you live in USDA zones 8 or higher. Plant the bulbs in the spring after the last frost date. Choose an area with well-draining soil, full morning sun and dappled afternoon shade. Fertilize the bulbs once each spring. Dig the bulbs up in the fall after two or three years in the ground and transplant them back into pots for indoor blooming.
Late Summer Blooms:
Dahlias: From miniature dahlias to oversized "dinnerplate" types, dahlias have taken over American gardens in recent years. Dahlia tubers are planted in the spring, and bloom in summer. These high-impact flowers grow in a rainbow of colours, and, increasingly, you'll find massive flowers with amazing patterns. A great way to add a touch of whimsy to your garden!
Begonias: Begonias are one of those quintissentially "summertime" flowers. Hardy begonias, unlike the annual begonias sold in many garden centers, will bloom year after year, and many constantly-blooming varieties will flower for several weeks or months. Try cascading begonias for the perfect hanging basket, or plant frilly double-blooming begonias to add texture to a bed.
Canna: Cannas bloom in August or even September in some regions - making them excellent fillers for the post-July fade that may happen with other flowers.Canna's tall stems sprout vivid, tropical flowers, and their foliage is glossy, too. They're a great way to wind down the growing season!
Crocosmia: Don't let their short stature fool you: fiery crocosmia flowers have a big impact in the garden. These red- or orange-coloured blooms add a lovely pop of energy to beds or borders, and their presence won't go unnoticed by butterflies and hummingbirds!