Ask a Question forum: Tulip bulbs turning black and mushy

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Name: Elias Serrano
Stanton, CA (Zone 10a)
EliS
Mar 27, 2018 8:53 PM CST
So i asked a question about the same tulips a bit back before and left the thread assuming this was a overwatering problem. Today I just pulled out 4 tulips out of 5 that have wilted and died. Their leaves slowly over time began turning purple followed by the leaves turning dried out and dead. Only one has survived so far and i hoping it wont follow like the others. Poor thing Sad I finally wanted to get to the bottom of this by digging them out and was surprised to noticed that they were mushy. Some more than others. Not only that but the worse ones were so mushy, they broke apart as i tried to hold one. Another's stem also broke off because it was so soggy. If anyone can tell me what this is so i can prevent this next season. I planted these in an approx. 5 gallon terracotta pot with potting soil. I live in zone 10. Also i dont believe this is a overwatering problem as the soil i dug up was dry so is this a disease? I also want to note that since i saw purple leaves i just decided to believe that this was a phosphorus deficency of some sort so i put some jobes bulb food once and about half a dried banana peel in the soil but thats about it aside from watering weekly. Any advice is welcome thank you! (I can send more pics if you need them)
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Mar 27, 2018 10:40 PM CST
This is the original thread:

The thread "Tulips turning brown before blooming" in Ask a Question forum

As far as I know, the only thing that leads to tulip bulb rot is poor drainage, allowing fungi and bacteria to grow in the soil, which then attacks the bulbs. If over-watering was the original problem, the damage was already done. Tulips are very prone to this sort of infection. Sorry!

There are some beautiful bulbs that would do so much better in zone 10 than tulips.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Mar 28, 2018 5:30 AM CST
I believe the problem was, that the five gallon pot was to deep. The soil at bottom of pot could never dry any, it was sopping wet all the time, breeding gunk.

So next time, use like a ten inch deep pot, and if your not sure potting soil is well draining, add equal parts, perlite to the potting soil.

Also ! Consider these questions.

Did pot have drain holes ?
Was excess water allowed to sit in pots drain pan ?
Was pot outside, where it would get direct sunlite ?
Did you allow top two inches of soil to dry out before watering ?
Was soil well draining ?

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Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Mar 28, 2018 8:23 AM CST
Tulips are a wonderful thing to grow, but not for zone 10. I think that ultimately they belong in the ground.
Mushy bulbs come from rot.
They have shallow clay or plastic pots referred to as "bulb pans" for a reason.
A pot too deep may look like it needs water at the top but down below it could be too wet.
"Our children are the messages we send to a time that we will never see."
Name: Elias Serrano
Stanton, CA (Zone 10a)
EliS
Mar 28, 2018 9:05 PM CST
Thank you all for this advice. Ill get more research on bulb pans for next season. My terracotta did have drainage hole only about an inch in diameter but that was the only way for drain out. Ill see what bulbs i can try to do instead but asides from that would adding 1/4 or 2/4 of cactus mix into the pot along with the potting soil also help? Because I can think of that as an easy fix for this problem later on.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Mar 28, 2018 10:02 PM CST
The easy fix is to grow bulbs that do well in your zone. The next fix is to use pots that are shallower. Tulip bulbs are very prone to soil pathogens, even in the zones they do well in.

You could be growing Amaryllis or Peruvian Daffodils or... All the thing I just dream about.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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