The Q&A Archives: Buds Falling off Hyacinths

Question: Last fall we planted 36 giant hyacinth bulbs in a rock garden along the sidewalk at the front of our house. About a month ago we noticed that the bulbs closest to the front porch started to appear, followed closely by all the rest. The flower buds formedin the crotch of the leaves, and continued to develop quite nicely, although nested quite deeply in the leaves. Last week we noticed that the buds on the first to appear were completely seperated from their stems. As a matter of fact there is no sign of a stem whatsoever. This area faces due south and gets full sun almost all day long. There is good drainage, and it has not been unseasonally warm or cool. There is no sign of insect damage on the leaves, I spoke with one of the local nurseries and they thought that the bulbs had appeared to early and were probably damaged by a frost. It's my understanding that the Hyacinths are supposed to appear before the tulips and daffodils which they did. We've grown Tulips and Daffodils for several years nowand they appeared at the same time as always, so I'm not buying into the "too early theory". The bulbs were fertilized when they were planted and again at the first sign of growth this spring. Any help you can suggest would be appreciated.

Answer: It is disappointing when the flowers you wait all winter for don't perform. The southern exposure probably did force your hyacinths along faster than normal, which may be why they didn't form stalks properly. Do the blossom buds/stalk appear brown and slimy? Then bacterial soft rot is the likely culprit. It forms on bulbs in wet soils or bubls that have been stored improperly. You may want to contact the source of the bulbs; since your soil is well drained, poor storage is the likely source of the problem. If soft rot seems to be the problem, dig and discard the bulbs and replace the soil since the bacteria will hang around. Excess fertilizer can make plants more succeptible to pests and diseases, so when you fertilize bulbs, use a mild one, suchas Burpee's Vitalize plant food. I hope this gives you some insights to the problem.

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