Plant ID forum: What is this plant?

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Name: Natalie Hilgers
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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NBNick1001
Apr 9, 2017 4:14 PM CST
I live in Wisconsin and my husband and I just bought a new house. Behind the garage, after clearing a wood pile, we found several seedlings that looked as if they were growing out of discarded lemons. (We found this hilarious, because lemons do not grow under normal conditions in Wisconsin.)

I re-potted them and moved them into the house, as spring weather here is tempermental at best, and they no longer had the cover of the woodpile. I have quite the green thumb, and a co-worker told me they were pretty easy plants to care for.

However they were not thriving and are now looking a bit sickly, so I looked up how to care for a lemon tree online. Lo and behold, the leaves tell me they are not lemons at all. What am I growing?? It is currently about 14 inches tall and would probably still be growing, given the season, if it wasn't sick.

I don't think it is a bulb, the base of the plant was mushy like it had been a fruit (apparently not a lemon, but it was yellow). The only flowers currently in season are very early crocuses.

Below are pictures of them upon first finding them and throwing them into the pot, a picture of them propped up against the house for support while looking sick, and a picture of the yellow, fist-size...root ball, for lack of a better term at the moment.

Thumb of 2017-04-09/NBNick1001/09d7e8


Thumb of 2017-04-09/NBNick1001/ce3677


Thumb of 2017-04-09/NBNick1001/4a6762

[Last edited by NBNick1001 - Apr 9, 2017 4:45 PM (+)]
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Apr 9, 2017 4:25 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, Natalie ( @NBNick1001 ).

They look to me like tulips -- or maybe hyacinths. They'll probably bloom soon and it should be easy to tell then Smiling .
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Apr 9, 2017 5:33 PM CST
I wonder if its an onion... But if it was, you would probably be able to smell it.
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Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Apr 9, 2017 5:48 PM CST
Looks like a tulip.
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Apr 9, 2017 6:03 PM CST
I'm with Daisy, it looks like an Allium (onion).
Name: Dillard Haley
Augusta Georgia (Zone 8a)
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farmerdill
Apr 9, 2017 6:16 PM CST
Flat leaves mean not an onion. Could be a tulip.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 9, 2017 6:48 PM CST
In any case, they look like some sort of spring flowering bulbs to me. The bulbs might be sort of soft and mushy right now since the plant is growing from the bulb.

I would advise you to plant them back outside in the ground somewhere. When/if they bloom you'll know for sure what they are.

The tall one in your second picture sure does look like a tall tulip or something.
Elaine

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Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Apr 10, 2017 1:04 AM CST

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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Apr 10, 2017 4:49 AM CST
farmerdill said:Flat leaves mean not an onion. Could be a tulip.


Many ornamental onions do have flat leaves. I guess we'll have a better idea if the flower bud manages to survive long enough to open. A close-up of the flower bud may help too. It has that pointy look of an Allium bud but hard to say for sure at this point.

Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Apr 10, 2017 6:52 AM CST
Is it common for the bulb to become soft when producing leaves and blooms?
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 10, 2017 8:33 AM CST
Yes, the bulb is food stored for the next year's growth. Once the plant starts growing and using up that stored food in the bulb, the bulb will shrink and could also soften. The old bulb will completely disappear, and the plant will make a whole new bulb after flowering.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Apr 10, 2017 12:01 PM CST
Thank you Elaine. As many bulbs as I've grown, I never knew that. Goes to show... I'm never too old to learn! Hurray!
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.
Name: Natalie Hilgers
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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NBNick1001
Apr 10, 2017 2:36 PM CST
I am fairly certain it's not a tulip. Those are all over the yard and this guy doesn't match. My mom thought perhaps a gladiola? I guess it's too soon to tell. If it survives and a bud or bloom shows up, I'll be sure to post it.
[Last edited by NBNick1001 - Apr 10, 2017 2:40 PM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 10, 2017 2:59 PM CST
Nope, the foliage isn't right for a gladiola, either. They have long sort of fiberous leaves that are very straight and flat.

Look forward to seeing what happens here!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
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Weedwhacker
Apr 10, 2017 6:20 PM CST
Looking back at the photos... I think Sooby might have nailed it with "ornamental allium."

Can't wait to see how this actually turns out...
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Name: Daniel Erdy
Catawba SC (Zone 7b)
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ediblelandscapingsc
Apr 10, 2017 6:26 PM CST
Its allium
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