The Q&A Archives: Hyacinths not blooming

Question: I planted hyacinths three years ago. The first year they were gorgeous, the second year I had a few blooms and this year the stalks hardly grew above the foliage. What's the problem? Carol Krasilnikoff Millbrae, CA

Answer: The problem could be either poor soil fertility or a fungus causing the bulbs to rot, says Kathleen Fenton, co owner of Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, suppliers of more than 60 varieties of bulbs in Grass Valley, CaliforniA. Hyacinths need proper fertility to keep growing and producing flowers each year. We recommend fertilizing in spring with Omega organic fertilizer or Bulb Booster, says Fenton. You can also top dress the bulbs while they're actively growing with a shovelful of compost once or twice before they flower, she adds. Another possible cause of your hyacinths' decline is poor water drainage, which can lead to the bulbs rotting, says Fenton. To check for fungal rot, dig up a few bulbs and look for a white mold on their surface or feel them to see if they're soft, she says. If they appear to be tottin, dig up all the bulbs after the foliage has yellowed and died and throw out the soft ones. Dust the healthy bulbs with a fungicide such as sulfur and replant them in a well drained location that's been amended with compost. Even with the best growing condition, hyacinths' blossoms will still naturally diminish over the years. You can help slow their decline by choosing varieties adapted to your coastal location such as Delft Blue, Anna Marie and L'Innocence, says Fenton.

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