questions from a 3rd year gardener

flora43May 2, 2009

Hi everyone,

I always have been able to count on your expertise to help me learn. Please take a look at my first (of what I expect will be many) questions of the season. I am located in the east metro.

I've noticed a lot of bulb attrition this spring. Not a lot of squirrels or other animals in the neighorhood at all, but I did see signs of a bunny nearby. Nothing looked to be dug up or bothered though.

1. Why aren't many of the new bulbs I planted last year coming up?

2. Of the ones that bloomed previously, I am getting fewer and fewer buds. I have several bunches of tulip leaves a nothing else. What gives? Are the ones producing only leaves done blooming forever? Same is happening for daffodils.

3. I will need to fix the sporadic layout that has become my spring garden, so can I dig these bulbs up after they are spent this spring and relocate them? If so, do I wait until fall to replant?

4. I also had a lot of winterburn this winter as another poster mentioned. It was on boxwood. It faces east-southeast, with the most severe burn on the southern exposure side. I don't really want to cover them since the whole reason I purchased them for that location was for winter color. I have some others on the northeast side of the house that are doing very well.

Will I have to move them there or is there another solution?

Thanks in advance!

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I'm not a bulb expert so I'll leave that for others.

As for the Boxwood, if you are not willing to cover or screen them for the winter, you could try an anti-dessicant spray. I don't know if they really work or not, have heard conflicting info including that it could do more harm than good. There is a house I walk by in my neighborhood where the owner put of a burlap screen all along the west and south sides of the boxwood. They were still all burned. Another thought, this winter was the worst I can remember for a while regarding evergreens and winterburn. A lot of the especially sensitive variaties (boxwood, yews, etc) look bad. Perhaps you accept that every once in a while they are going to have a rough winter.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 7:45AM
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I believe that much of the hardiness has been bred out of tulips and other spring bulbs in the pursuit of fancier varieties. There can be other reasons as well, heavy wet soil for example and yes, animals too. As for the new bulbs, I have found that you need to be dilligent in checking the quality of new bulbs, and good ones seem to be hard to come by, even with reputable nurseries.

Boxwood is one of my pet peeves. They just are not all that hardy here, I am taking pictures of all the dead boxwood in the area to show my clients who insist on buying this plant. As a gardener I understand taking risks on plants that I know may or may not survive the winter, but they are sold in abundance to well meaning people who do not understand this risk. They assume that because they are readily available, they must be a good plant for the area.

Okay...I appologize for the rant. But that is my two cents for what it is worth. Good luck with the bulbs and the boxwood too.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 9:11AM
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Species tulips will increase, hybrids tend to peter out over time. Not sure if daffs are the same. Another factor or two...excessive wetness will rot bulbs, planting too deep/in really heavy or clay soil may also lead to decrease over time. Nutrients is another aspect to consider. Check out the U of MN Extension's online publications about bulbs. I agree with the comments about boxwood.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 9:31AM
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zenpotter(z4 MN)

Some suppliers are more reliable than others.
One of the things I do before I order from anyone is to check the garden watchdog to see the reliability of the company.

Here is a link that might be useful: garden watchdog

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 12:00PM
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