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My tulip bulbs have not made any flowers this spring, maybe due to lack of sun and/or phosphorus. Is there any chance they will make flowers next year if I give them phosphorus and more sun, or should I just throw them away?

  • I don't know where you are, but phosphorus shortage isn't likely, unless you know your soil is short of it. Many tulips don't flower after the first year if they're grown somewhere they don't get absolutely baked by hot sun in the summer. The species are better at continuing to flower (Greigii and the like) – Bamboo May 25 '15 at 18:13
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It depends - do you have a more suitable location to move them to? In many landscapes, tulips (at least the hybrids) are a disposable item, as they get planted where they won't actually get enough sun to bloom again (or in more commercial landscapes, they bloom and are torn out to be replaced with other flowers for a continuous display).

Since they transplant poorly (IMPE) when growing, you are probably looking at two years from now if you have a spot to move them to, whether you transplant now and they are unhappy about it, or transplant after the foliage dies back for a less stressful move.

If that sounds like fun, go for it. You might aim for a three year program/rotation, where your sunny tulip field gets the bulbs that come out of the bed, they grow there for a couple years to restore themselves, and then you move them back to the bed. If it sounds tedious, either buy tulip bulbs every fall, or change to flowers that are a bit more cooperative about blooming most every year in the conditions you have.

  • I unfortunately had only 2h of sun per day for the flowers, but next year I'll be able to have full day California sun. What is surprising to me is that last year my bulbs made beautiful tulips. I didn't keep them and bought new ones this year, and from the 20 bulbs I had, only one made a flower. But I definitely want to try to keep my bulbs and reuse them year after year, it does sound like fun to me :). I'm not too sure if I'm going to enjoy replanting bulbs for 2 years just for them to accumulate energy and only get flowers in 3 years though. – bruce_ricard May 26 '15 at 2:16
  • When you say they transplant poorly, are you saying I should leave them in the ground? I read that they like to be taken out from the ground at the end of the summer, and put back at the end of fall. – bruce_ricard May 26 '15 at 2:22
  • That should be only if you are trying to grow them in a bed without adequate sun - effectively mimicing what the Dutch are doing out in the fields - if you give them a sunny spot they can stay in, they should flower. If you bought 20 new bulbs and they did not flower, there's perhaps a problem with those bulbs - I was assuming you replanted the year before's bulbs. – Ecnerwal May 26 '15 at 2:23
  • When I say "transplant poorly", I mean a growing, green leaves bulb. Once the foliage dies back, dig up at will. – Ecnerwal May 26 '15 at 2:24

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