The Q&A Archives: Bulbs stopped producing after one season

Question: I planted tulip and daffodil bulbs 2 years ago in the fall. The following spring, they flowered nicely. The next year, nothing. I did not cut the leaves before they wilted. I did shovel a lot of snow on the flower bed during the winter...could this have killed them? Do they need a certain level of oxygen?

Answer: I don't think the snow had anything to do with the bulb failure. Tulips, unfortunately, are rarely reliable perennials. They generally put on a wonderful show the first year, then decline in size and number of flowers with each successive year. Some varieties will perform better in certain locations but, generally, unlike daffodils and crocuses, they can't be counted on to flourish year to year. If you really want a reliable spectacular tulip show each year, you'll need to plant fresh bulbs each year. Daffodils, on the other hand, should bloom reliably year after year. If yours did not, they may have rotted if the ground remained soggy, or they may have become a feast for underground critters. You might try digging up the area where you planted the bulbs and inspect what's left.

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