What to do with bulbs that don't have flowers.

Rodger Whitlock totototo@telus.net
Wed, 13 Apr 2016 12:15:24 PDT
On 13 Apr 2016, at 12:26, Sujit Hart wrote:

> They put up some healthy looking foliage but no flowers.  We did have a
> very mild winter this year.
> On Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 11:57 AM, Rodger Whitlock <totototo@telus.net>
> wrote:
> > A question: did your bulbs put up foliage this year, or was there simply
> > nothing where you had planted them?

That implies that the bulbs haven't been attacked by diseases, so the answer 
must lie in the environment, primarily soil and/or climate.

In that case, I suggest two tactics:

1. Fertilize. Theoretically, you'd want a fertilizer relatively low in 
nitrogen, but a light sprinklng of not-too-much general purpose granular 
fertilizer will do. Even an application in late summer or early fall (e.g. 
Labor Day Weekend) may give results. Narcissus 'Jack Snipe', for example, 
flowered after years of non-flowering when given a little 13-16-10 around Labor 

This surprised me because narcissus supposedly form next spring's flowers 
primordia during the summer.

2. Move the bulbs to a north-facing site with winter shade from a wall to give 
the bulbs more winter chill.

Lifting the bulbs and storing them dry after the foliage dies until you replant 
them in the fall may also help, by protecting them from excessive summer wet.

One other point about tulips that may be of general interest: You sometimes see 
gardening writers confuse "needs a dry summer" with "likes a sandy soil." The 
difficulty with this simple-minded idiocy is that many bulbs prefer a rather 
rich, heavy soil and sandy soils are too lean to feed them adequately. Many 
Central Asian tulips grow natively in heavy gumbo clay.

If your soil is sandy and lean, the situation may be a lost cause. Sandy soils 
don't retain soluble nutrients well.

PS: "Not-too-much" fertilizer means just a few ounces per square yard.
Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Z. 7-8, cool Mediterranean climate

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