Darrell Blackwelder: Questions about bulbs

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2022

I had a couple of questions sparked by the daffodil article a few weeks ago. Below are a couple of questions about bulbs that may be of interest.

Question: I had a friend give me some spring-flowering bulbs this week and was wondering when I should plant them. Should I wait until next fall?

Answer: Normally, bulbs should have been planted in the early fall for them to become proficient bloomers. Unfortunately, flower bulbs aren’t seeds as they will not survive out of the ground for extended periods. The bulbs should be planted as soon as possible so they have a chance to grow and bloom. Bulbs are tough, but you need to put them in the ground as soon as possible.

Question: This the second year in a row that my daffodils have not bloomed. What do I need to do to make them bloom again?

Answer: There are a few reasons why your daffodils do not repeat bloom this year. Over-crowding, too much shade, damaged foliage after the bloom or wrong variety. These are just a few reasons that result in few or no blooms. Locate the bulbs in an area that gets at least six hours of full sun each day. Daffodils and other true bulbs produce bulblets each growing season. You may notice that each year the foliage gets thicker. They can produce too many bulblets impeding uptake of nutrients. It’s important to periodically divide them so they will have space to expand and grow. Another important factor is lack of foliage during the summer after bloom. After bloom, be careful not to damage or remove foliage until they fade, turning dark yellow and falling over. It’s important to fertilize bulbs in late fall and early spring with bulb fertilizers. Select bulbs that are recommended for our area and avoid bargain bulbs.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.