Tulip problem - one leaf only - no bloom

SavilleMay 10, 2012

Hi all,

I just joined this forum. I am having a problem with many of my tulips.

I did a search on "tulip problem" and "tulip no bloom" but nothing turned up.

I have about 15 tulips in my garden. About half of them come up fine and bloom.

The other half send ONE leaf up out of the ground; no stalk; no bloom. The leaf dies off and then the same thing repeats next year. They are not being dug up. When I dig the bulbs up they look normal.

All my daffodils and grape hyacinth and crocus work fine. The garden is weeded and clear. The competition is low.

Has anyone seen this and is there a remedy?


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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Are they in partial shade, perhaps? Tulips need lots of sun in order to produce blooms. I had some bulbs that were in an area that got shadier each year because of trees overhead getting bigger. No blooms, 1 or 2 leaves. So I moved them (in the spring, not the fall, in order to make the bulbs grow stronger over the summer) and they did bloom the following spring. And thereafter.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 6:16PM
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I have read that many tulips are bred for the cut flower market, and so are not as likely to produce bloom over years. I try to buy tulip bulbs that the catalog comments on as being more likely to be perennial. Both Brent and Becky's Bulbs (link below) and John Scheepers (www.johnscheepers.com/) have notes to this effect in the printed catalogs, though I am not sure what kind of info they include online. Brent and Becky's catalog notes that they regard Darwin Hybrids "as the longest term perennial tulip group." Fosteriana, some of the Kaufmanniana and species tulips are pretty good perennials in my experience also. I have some tulips that have come back and bloomed for 5 years, but realistically I'm happy if the critters haven't eaten them for just a few seasons. I also have found that they last longest if they are buried deeply and are in a really well-drained area in the summer when they are dormant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Brent and Becky's Bulbs

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 7:51PM
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One addition:
I kind of view tulips as an indulgence or as frosting on the cake. If I want many years of reliable bloom I plant daffodils or alliums.

And also a warm welcome. Hope that you continue to visit and post.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 8:00PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

I treat tulips as annuals. I buy them in late fall when they go on sale. Plant them then, and then throw them on the compost pile when they have finished blooming. They just aren't reliable as perennials.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 7:05AM
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Tulips like sun and they don't like wet soil.

I second nhbabs and steve-mass. I also treat my tulips as annuals. I buy about $30-50 worth every fall from Christmas Tree Shops or Walmart. And I count it a bonus if I get a second season. Then there is the whole issue of keeping the deer from eating them when they do survive. I had something this year that came by, bit off the tulips, but spit the flower out. So I ended up with tulip blossoms on the ground in one section of the garden.

I really should take Steve's advice and pull the scrawny foliage left from some 3 year old bulbs and pop them in the compost pile.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 9:19AM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

I do the same thing as Pixie Lou and hit Christmas Tree Shops when they are on sale. I haven't found tulips to be perennial at all for me in past years, although I did get a tip from the Cottage Garden forum last year that you should cut the bloom off as soon as it is finished so it doesn't go to seed. I did this last year and did have quite a batch of tulips come back this year. I was very surprised.

Pixie Lou, my dad once told me that his mom told him that squirrels and other rodents will snip off the blooms because there is a "kernel" that they like to eat. This came up in conversation with my dad after I caught chipmunks shimmying up my asiatic lilies and biting off the buds. It seemd they were doing that same thing, so maybe there is something to that.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 8:51AM
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