The Q&A Archives: Old Bulbs Not Flowering

Question: Old bulbs on an old farm are coming up now that spring is here. Some are daffodils and all the others look like they could be crocus. The leaves have the little strip up the middle of the leaf. Only two flowers have bloomed and those were no where close to the massive amount of green leaves that are growing in the front yard. I put in a small garden in the front yard last fall and while digging came across these small bulbs, but did not throw away. I left them to see what would come up this spring. Now a yard of striped green leaves that look like crocus. If they are old (in producing) is there some bulb food that may help them bloom for next year. I do know they are not wild onion. And the same question for non producing daffodils, will bulb food help for next year's bloom.
Thanks for any help on this bulb question.
I am trying to reclaim old plants and trees to bring them back in to bloom and production.

Answer: Often the old bulbs have suffered a number of abuses: the foliage has been mowed or trimmed prematurely, they are competing with grass and other plants for nutrients, and they are overcrowded and need to be lifted and separated. Any improvements you can make in those regards will probably result in better bloom. Ideally you would lift and replant them into newly prepared and enriched soil, apply some fertilizer (complete such as 10-10-10 or with a higher middle number such as 5-10-5) next fall as the roots begin to regrow and again early next spring just as the tips begin to show through the soil. Also be sure to let the foliage fully ripen before removing it so that the bulbs can rebuild their strength as much as possible for next year's blooms. Good luck with your project, it is sure to be very rewarding!

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