Thursday, March 18, 2010

Where are my bulbs?

(another mystery brought to you today by a baffled gardener) Last year, after reading about others daffodils and tulips on Garden Blogs, I decided it was time to give them a second chance. I have never had luck with bulbs in my Georgia Garden but was tempted to give them another go. This happens when you visit garden blogs. And look, they returned in the planter on the east side of the house! The Daffy's are growing much faster then the Tulips and Phlox which were all planted at the same time.
I also planted Tulip Bulbs in the Semi-Formal Flower Garden last year. I talked about creating this New Planter in front of the picket fence which hides the Ugly Gas Tank. In the above picture, you see those beautiful Tulips keeping African Daisy company.
Winter has come and gone and here is the Planter today. Where are the Tulips?
I see this little bit of foliage.
And I see this little bit of foliage but nothing more! Did they rot in the soggy conditions of the rainy winter? Were they bad specimens that don't return? Or as I suspect, did our resident Vole get to them? Look at the Black-eyed Susan coming up!
Other Bulb plants such as these Dwarf Lily seem to be okay. Blueberry Candy, Pandora's Box and Daring Deception Daylily are fine as well. All these lilies are near the Tulip Planter.

So WHERE ARE MY BULBS? In the Garden...

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden


  1. Skeeter,
    This is why I don't plant tulips, they never give much of a return the next year following their first year. You could dig them up and replant them in the fall I guess. They just don't like our hot summers I think.

  2. The mysteries of bulbs...I feel sure that some of mine rotted due to the extreme amount of rain that we received. Even good draining soil can only take so much!

  3. Skeeter girl I also think the soggy conditions and the warm winter is the culprit .. you need some cold (dry) but snow covered conditions to encourage the bulbs .. but if you know people in your area that have luck with bulbs maybe they have a secret to it that you don't know ?
    It did look absolutely beautiful they way you had it planned out girl !

  4. Those tulips are such thankless little bulbs. We plant them and baby them and they give us a great show the first year then disappear! Darn it! The hybrid tulips are not good for reappearance but they might come back once the babies they made last year get bigger. Don't count on it though. The daffys look great though. They will reward you forever and ever.

  5. Love tulips but don't like the no show. I don't plant them as I know it's a waste of time & money. I did have the parrot tulips in N.C. they did good but the moles ate the bulbs till I learned to plant them in cans.
    I like the way you had them before. So much color.

  6. I had tulips return only one year after the first. While I covet tulips (like those in the Monet photos that I took), I have reconciled that there are so many other beautiful bulbs for spring.

  7. I have never planted tulips. I have heard that they can be difficult. I do have voles that have eaten some of my other bulbs. It looks like everything else in your garden will be beautiful though. Carla

  8. You tulips did what mine do, eventually they won't have foliage. Only a very happy tulip will return, I had 1 in the other house I lived at, It was hidden by the snowball bush but once cleared it returedn every year.

  9. What a bummer, Skeeter, they looked SO pretty and purple last year. I agree with what Tina said. The species are the only ones you can count on. Though I have hear that if you plant them extra deep. 12" in warm areas, it will stimulate the bulb to get really big (flowering size) instead of making smaller non blooming bulbs. I don't know if it works, but it may be worth a try. Hope your daffs and all the others returns too.

  10. You may be too far south for tulips to succeed. What happens is in hot summers, they divide so quickly that all you will get is a few leaves. They need to be kept cool. The rule of thumb for southern gardens is to plant them at least a foot deep (cover the bulbs with a foot of soil) or treat them as annuals, as a bulb grower once told me, and just replant them every year. Even up here in SW Missouri, I've had the same problem if I don't plant them deep enough.

  11. Hi Skeeter. Tulips don't like wet soil. The bulbs probably rotted. Next year you could look for species tulips and plant them in raised beds.

    I love the parrot tulips so I plan to start digging mine up after they bloom and replanting them in November. Too expensive to just get one season of bloom from.

  12. Some bulbs, with dividing, come back for 20 years... tulips are not one of them; they only live at most 5 years. Also, because your climate doesn't have the ideal cold for them, maybe they give up flowering earlier?? Or... hey still may come up! :)

  13. Good Morning! Overcast and cool in GA for now...

    Randy, That is probably why I dont see many tulips in this area. Too much trouble to dig up and replant each year but I may give them a try for next year just to see...

    Darla, after reading what Randy had to say, I am going to dig in the planter a bit to see if I can find them…

    Joy, I don’t really see many tulips around town either. We had a really cold winter with lots of freezing night temps then the one 7 inch snowfall this year so was expecting more from them. I forgot to mention that I have Gladiolas in this planter also and they don’t do much for me either…

    Tina, I think it may be time to give up on tulips then. I just remember my grandmothers being so pretty each year. I do recall her digging them out though. Too much work for me so I will just admire the ones I see elsewhere….

    Lola, planting in cans, what a great idea for Vole proofing! I must remember that one as I do have Vole issues! I was so happy with the planter last year and then such a disappointment this year. Oh well, I am a learn as you go gardener so I learned my lesson…

    Cameron, I know the ones in your pictures encourage me to have them in my gardens. But I must learn to Just Say No to Tulips. You are right, there are way more bulbs out there I should give a chance…

    Carla, Don’t waste your time on Tulips such as I. Holland can have them as they are beautiful there! Voles and Moles are pesky little critters we must deal with year round. Our neighbors cat has been slacking on the job lately…

    Dawn, Hum, I don’t need anything that picky in my life. Dealing with my cats is enough picky for one household, lol. No more tulips in my gardens…

    Lzyjo, I remember Tina saying they needed to be planted deep so I made sure to plant them really deep. They are about 8 inches below the top soil. I just don’t seem to have any luck with bulbs in my gardens. I think the ground is too warm in the winter months. I should remove them each year for cold winter storage but I am a lazy gardener as I will not remove them….

    Isadora, I have been hearing the same from those above. We do have hot summers and mild winters but this winter was a real cold one for us and I was so hoping for pretty tulips. I may dig them up and go a bit deeper just to see if anything will happen with them. Other then that, they will stay buried as I will not work more on them. Lazy I guess…

    Marnie, I think I will just enjoy seeing tulips on the blogs as I am fed up with these. I knew bulbs did not do well here but I just had to give them a chance. I have learned my lesson and will not try tulips again. Yes, too pricy for one year of beauty…

  14. Monica, I will dig them out and see what is going on with them. If they look good, I will place them deeper in the ground. Other then that, I give up on them. I wanted them so badly to remind me of my grandmothers beauties in spring. She was not a lazy gardener and dug hers up though. Plus a better tulip back then as well…

  15. We finally just had to give up on them. Too much of a hassle in our warm climate.-- Randy

  16. Skeeter- Most tulips, except for the species tulips, cannot be counted on to come back every year. If they do then count yourself lucky. It has nothing to do with soggy ground. It is the nature of the bulb. Planting them deep my help but I have found that the more exotic and expensive the tulip the less chance it has of coming back anyway and eventually all of them cease to come back.

    To grow species tulips you will need a cold winter of several months. I have always gardened in the far north so this concept of not having enough winter to grow hardy plants is new to me.
    Do any of your neighbours or friends grow species tulips? I am very interested to find out.

  17. Did you chill them first? In our area where it doesn't naturally get cold enough for them (So. Calif.) we have to put them in the fridge for six weeks before we plant them and then they will only bloom for the first year. Too much trouble for such short bloom time for me! There are many bulbs that do well without the need for the chill factor!

  18. You could buy new bulbs every fall and chill, but they need rotating through new planting sites.

    Most of my thoughts have been expressed by others. I do have suggestions for substitutes:

    Iceland poppy plants will survive your winters and bloom for 3 weeks or more in the spring, while tulips are good for a very few days. Iceland poppies are easily grown from seed; plants are available at some nurseries. They are used in the same way as pansies.

    When I stopped chilling and planting tulips for scant return, I turned to hyacinths. They are as long-lasting as many of my daffodils and provide bright colors.

    You did have a good show last year.

  19. Bulbs often seduce me - especially at the dreary winter season when I see their impossible pictures in seed catalogs. I think it's their implicit promise to return, coupled with the disappointment I feel a year later, staring at the bare spot that has become their apparent graveand wondering what I did to kill them.

  20. Perhaps they became squirrel food?

  21. My first thought was all the rain you have had so they rotted. If that is the case you can probably dig down and find some remmants of them.

    As I read more I thought it probably is the warm weather factor. Then I read the comments and I must say that I disagree (oh, no, say it an't so :( ) I have tulips that still bloom and have never had any care at all. My mother passed on 23 years ago and she planted them several years before that. They DO NEED THE COLD. Because of that I would not plant them deep at all. Maybe this past winter you had enough cold for them to come back if they were not so deep but I am betting even with the cold you had, you did not have frost in the ground that deep. We do not even plant them that deep here in Maine. Sorry folks, just my humble opinion.

  22. That's what a lot of my old tulips look like too, one leaf. I have a few that return every year, otherwise I have to plant new ones each year.

  23. Ever have one of those weeks where you feel like all you have done is run and run and run some more? And in the end, you dont feel like you got much accomplished? It has been one of those weeks for me!

    Thank you all so much for your comments. This has been a most interesting read today about tulip bulbs. I do plan to dig them out this weekend and see what I find. I will post an update next week.

    Randy, I think I would rather have this warm climate then the tulips :)

    Melanie, I do not notice Tulips in our area so I suspect; others have given up on them as well. I am seeing more and more daffodils though so maybe I should just stick to daffys from here on...

    Shelia, No, I did not chill them. I left them in the ground over winter. I wanted to give them a try and see what happened. Now we know...

    Nelljean, I have never heard of Iceland Poppy’s. I will have to look for them...

    Weeping sore, I was tempted by all the blogs and then finding them with huge buds on them. I could not resist but from now on, I will resist...

    Dan, I thought of those pesky critters but no holes were dug in the area so I cannot blame this one on the squirrels. But they get their share of blame for other antics...

    Jean, I was thinking rot also but this planter is a bit raised and not so soggy as the lower part of the Semi-Formal. I recall my grandmother’s tulip beds full of them and I dont remember her chilling but a sack full at a time. I don’t believe she could have chilled as many as she had and planted them all each year. So I think those were different type tulips that were not massed produced. I think the ones we find in the discount centers are not a good hardy tulip as in the past years. Even with our many freezing night temps, the ground never really did freeze with the warmer day temps. We only had a couple of days of freezing temps and that was not enough to give us a hard freeze...

    Catherine, I have come to the conclusion that tulips today only bloom one time. Not worth all the digging of holes to me so I will opt out of tulips in the future. They sure were pretty last year though...

  24. bummer.... maybe the bulb fairy came and took them! :(

  25. Dirty Girl, LOL, that is funny :-)

  26. I also can never resist tulips, although the voles do get to them. Our experienced neighbor told me that voles leave daffodils alone, so maybe I'll concentrate on that. He also recommended planting the bulbs in baskets, making them easy to remove for the winter if you want to go that route.

  27. I'm not much on planting but I decided to plant a few caladium bulbs. A few days later the dirt looked disturbed so I dug down and I know where they went....those blasted squirrels! lol

  28. I don't grow tulips any more for this reason, except for the perennial types, such as the Triumphs and the Darwin hybrids. Those are good perennializers, especially if buried deeply. I have tulips (I can't remember what they are) in a raised bed that will not die, and 'Easter Moon' Tulips that keep coming back & trying to bloom despite being a spring treat for the deer. So trying a different type of tulip might help.