The Q&A Archives: Tulips not blooming

Question: This year my tulips did POORLY. I have planted approximately 125 tulips around my house 2 years ago and this year only 2-3 of them actually bloomed with several having the leaves to appear but no bloom. I've moved them around a couple of times since I have gotten them and wondered if this had anything to do with them not blooming. Could you help?

Answer: There are some varieties of tulips that perennialize better than others, so this may be one factor in what you are seeing. Next, tulips must grow and ripen their foliage naturally in order to rebuild their strength to bloom. This means they must be left in place to grow, bloom, grow their foliage, and then the foliage must turn yellow and dry out before you remove it. If you dig and store them for the summer or if you transplant them, the foliage must be done ripening before you lift them from the ground. (Sometimes they can be moved/transplanted while "in the green" but this is much more difficult.) Moving them might not have been too helpful, if it shortened their foliage stage. Also, they need to be grown in relatively good soil and in full sun to encourage robust foliage growth. Finally, if the bulbs were on the small side to start, they may need a year or two to rebuild enough strength to bloom again. Make sure to fertilize in the fall when they are growing their roots and again in early spring just as they begin to emerge. If the season is dry, water them in the spring so they grow lots of vigorous leaves. I hope this helps you trouble shoot.

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