General Discussion:

Tulips and Leaves

Messages posted to thread:

Ann12-May-02 07:57 PM EST 5b   
Julie12-May-02 08:52 PM EST 5b   
Sue13-May-02 07:55 AM EST 6a   
Susan13-May-02 08:23 AM EST 6a   
JoanneS13-May-02 03:10 PM EST 3a   
Jude14-May-02 12:01 AM EST 3a   
aileen14-May-02 06:50 AM EST 6a   
DAVE14-May-02 09:49 AM EST   
glen14-May-02 05:01 PM EST 3   
Ann14-May-02 06:37 PM EST 5b   

Subject: Tulips (all Leaves and no flower)
From: Ann
Zone: 5b
Date: 12-May-02 07:57 PM EST

I planted tulips last fall and I am getting a lot of leaves and no blooms.

Can someone tell me why this is happening?



Subject: RE: Tulips and Leaves
From: Julie
Zone: 5b
Date: 12-May-02 08:52 PM EST

Glad to hear someone else is having the same problem! I have never seen such huge leaves as this year. I planted my bulbs 3 years ago - the 1st year, had 80 beautiful blooms; year 2, the deer ate them and I thought this may be why I have such huge leaves and only 9 blooms coming on year 3. I am anxious to hear why this is happening to the tulips this year - I live in NS.

Subject: RE: Tulips and Leaves
From: Sue (
Zone: 6a
Date: 13-May-02 07:55 AM EST

Yes me too. Some from last year are back nicely but of the ones I planted last fall only the orange ones have bloomed. Some have huge leaves but not a bud in sight - must have been the mild winter I guess.

Subject: RE: Tulips and Leaves
From: Susan
Zone: 6a
Date: 13-May-02 08:23 AM EST

Interesting... I've not had any problem with the tulips not blooming, but all my tulips that bloomed white last year are now a pale, creamy yellow! Like Sue, I figure the mild winter and generally odd weather had something to do with it. So many bulbs started to come up last fall and early winter - maybe some of the flower buds got killed when it finally got cold, resulting in the lack of flowers some have experienced.

Subject: RE: Tulips and Leaves
From: JoanneS (
Zone: 3a
Date: 13-May-02 03:10 PM EST

Here is my experience. Unless the tulip specifically says it naturalizes, it is sort of a one-hit wonder. The fancy tulips have fabulous blooms for the first year, so-so to non-existent for the second year, and nothing by the third - although they continue to grow leaves. I've had the same experience with daffodils as well. Now, unless it specifically says it naturalizes, I dig it up and put in new bulbs every fall.

As for the colour change, apparently, they do revert back to their natural colours, but I don't know much more than that about this aspect of tulip breeding.

Subject: RE: Tulips and Leaves
From: Jude
Zone: 3a
Date: 14-May-02 12:01 AM EST

Julie... if the deer ate your tulips, then that's your problem. The leaves of a tulip must be allowed to die naturally. It is the nutrients/energy from the leaves that ....feed the bulb .... that produce the flowers ... for NEXT year. If the deer munched them all off, you will have very few (if any) flowers this year.

Ann & Susan... if you didn't allow the leaves to "ripen" on their own, then that explains your lack of flowers. And the old way of tying them into bundles doesn't cut it either. That just pinches off the flow in the leaves.

Subject: RE: Tulips and Leaves
From: aileen
Zone: 6a
Date: 14-May-02 06:50 AM EST

I live in Nova Scotia too -- The bulbs need to be planted deeper. They don't survive the freeze/thaw very well. Leave the leaves grow as greenery -- don't cut it down -- it's food for the bulbs. This fall, mulch better to prevent freeze/thaw. Also, mothballs will stop deer and other animals from chewing bulbs and won't hurt bulbs. Just sprinkle on ground and leave.

Subject: RE: Tulips and Leaves
From: DAVE
Date: 14-May-02 09:49 AM EST

Just counted the number of tulips that bloomed in my garden this year-737. Having had some experience with tulips and daffodils, I've found they are very misunderstood. Tulips store energy in their bulb during the spring and summer and this usually predetermines their bloomability(is this a word?) the following year. Ideally, they like 6 hours of direct sunshine for several months of the year, lots of water and lots of fertilizer/nutrients until the leaves die back to nothing. Very few tulips get these ideal conditions as other plants grow over/around them to rob them of sunlight plus any dry spell will cause them to die off early(leaves go brown and shrivel up) causing less time for energy to be stored in bulbs and finally there may be less nutrients in the soil than optimum (I fertilize early May with granular fertilizer with a hand held spreader). Depending on how much energy was stored in the previous year(from least ennergy to most) the tulip will send up a small leaf or a fat leaf or full leaves and flower, and if it has lots of energy it will split at the bulb into two or more plants sending up leaves dependent on the amount of energy after the bulb has split. It's also true that different varieties are better able to handle these conditioins. I have some red tulips that are able to survive almost any conditions while other tulips require lots of pampering.

Subject: RE: Tulips and Leaves
From: glen
Zone: 3
Date: 14-May-02 05:01 PM EST

If you just planted tulips last fall and they are not blooming, it could be the bulb wasn’t quite mature enough to bloom, or perhaps the grower harvested them too early before last year’s foliage died down naturally. At any rate, as long as they are healthy and in a fairly sunny spot, they should bloom more next year (don’t cut foliage down, let it die naturally.) For those with deer, I suspect that the deer in essence cut down the tulips before the leaves could feed and ripen the bulb to prepare for next year’s flower.

Subject: RE: Tulips and Leaves
From: Ann
Zone: 5b
Date: 14-May-02 06:37 PM EST

Thanks for all the input. I too live in Nova Scotia. This isn't a deer problem as we are in town and have a fence around our pool area.

Hopefully they will come back next is so long to wait. I planted them in the fall so I think they are the parrot or fringed type, as I really like them.

Is it possible I planted them too deep or not deep enough? I always put compost and bulb fertilizer when I plant my bulbs.

I planted fritillaria bulbs (crown imperial)last year and they are spectacular.

Go figure!


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