Daffodils are a no show

lovetogarden(z4 NY)April 20, 2013

I live in zone 5 in upstate NY. I moved here last year after moving from a zone 3-4 area. My last garden had very fertile, rich soil. I alway grew daffs and tulips by the bushel and have never had a problem before. I grew the large King Alfred, and later in the season, the Poeticas would show up after the King Alfreds stopped blooming. I don't think I ever lost a bulb as everything bloomed prolifically.

Fast forward to my new house. The first thing I did when I moved here was to test the soil (ph, drainage, etc.). The soil was in terrible shape - very sandy and totally infertile. So I ammended the soil ( peat, compost, cow manure, good top soi). I didn't start gardening yesterday so I know how to fix a soil. I then planted several bushels of daffodils and tulips. I incorporated bonemeal into the soil before planting. Despite all I've done there is not one daffodil that is showing. Not even a leaf, though the tulips are already leafing out. Anyone have any idea what could be wrong? They're planted properly. They were purchased from a top of the line nursery (place I've used for years becaue they have really pristine bulbs), and were planted at the proper depth in a sunny area, with a nice layer of leaf cover to protect against heaving. All the things I did at my last house so I have no idea what could be wrong. Anyone with any information please help. Thanks and sorry for the long posting.
Just wanted to add that I planted some in a big pot and am getting the same result.

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Hmmmmm... if you had said the tulips were the "no shows" I'd have said the squirrels ate them, but they don't bother daffodils...

The ones you planted in pots: do you mean that you kept them in cold storage for the winter and tried to force them in pots this spring???

You seem certain that you planted them properly, and you didn't say but I assume you planted them in the autumn of 2012, so if all that is true and none of the daffs have shown even a single leaf at this point, I'd say you got bad bulbs! I'd be VERY unhappy -- especially since you say you planted BUSHELS of them. OMG. I'd contact the seller!

FWIW, my earliest daffodils started blooming last week and I'm also in z5.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 7:51PM
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lovetogarden(z4 NY)

Thanks Party, I don't think it has anything to do with the seller since I've been dealing with Terra Ceia for over 20 years and I've never been disappointed. Their bulbs are superb (huge and so fresh it's like I dug them from my own garden to transplant).
I have a huge pot on my porch that I planted with daffs. It recieves full sun and was planted at the same time l planted the beds last October. It has remained outside all winter with a layer of leaf mulch over the top. I also mixed bonemeal in the soil before planting. Maybe there was something wrong with the bonemeal itself that caused this problem but then again, wouldn't it have affected the tulips too? I'm really at a loss as to what could have gone wrong. Maybe it had something to do with the infertile soil? The last place I lived the soil was so fertile every shovelfull had zillions of worms. I have not seen one worm in this soil - even now, after amending the soil last year, I still haven't come across one.
Tomorrow I am going to pull a daff bulb from the pot and one from the ground (that's if they are still there) to see if I can get any idea what went wrong. I've been hesitant to do that up to this point. Now I think I have nothing to lose since nothing is happening anyway. I'll report back to let everyone know what I found out. Thanks everyone for your interest and help.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:01AM
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lovetogarden(z4 NY)

Well, I pulled a few bulbs from the pot and they are solid but nothing has happened. No roots, no growth, nothing. I suspect this has gone on in the garden too but, since they are strewn throughout the bed I have no idea where to dig them up for fear of digging up late blooming perennials. Everything is in full sun too so I don't understand this. Unless the bonemeal I used had another chemical in it - maybe to retard something (what?) that might have prevented the bulbs from doing what they are supposed to do. I know it had nothing to do with the seller because my sister purchased bulbs from the same place and her daffs came up just fine a few weeks ago (she's in zone 6). Anyone have a clue?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 4:15PM
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I was originally going to suggest that there might have been a mixup at the factory and some soil amendment was actually tainted or toxic to the bulbs... but then I figured there wasn't any problem with the tulips, so that couldn't possibly be the cause. :p OTOH, could there be a chemical that would inhibit the growth of daffs but not tulips?

I'm in z5 too and I'm not convinced that potted daffs would grow and survive properly through the winter here. Even with mulch, the pot would need to be protected from becoming overly wet and/or taking a hard freeze. And was the pot sufficiently deep/wide? and what soil/mix was it potted in?

I am not saying it's the seller's fault, but most would certainly guarantee a purchase of that type/size! or they might be aware of a problem from the grower. Were your sister's daffodil bulbs from the same place and the same variety?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 5:54PM
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oh! are they a LATE variety of daffodils??? lol!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 5:55PM
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lovetogarden(z4 NY)

Hi Party Music, yes they were. My sister and I shared an order to save on shipping costs. She had no problem with her bulbs. All came up a few weeks ago.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 9:11PM
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Is there any chance that your share of the daff bulbs got hot before they were planted? for example, were they left in a hot car on a sunny day? that might have baked them. :p

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 8:20PM
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lovetogarden(z4 NY)

Hi Party Music, I received the order at my house in October. Took them out of their package. Split them up to give my sister half. Then had them in the garage for a few days until I could get to them on the weekend. So no, I don't think they got hot.

I took another one out of the ground today and cut it in half and it looked like a bad onion inside - soft. We had unusual weather here last Oct/Nov. A lot of rain. The part of the porch were I keep the pot is like a pergola. So the pot got watered a lot too. Also, I put the bulbs all around the outskirts of my property. The soil had been graded to fall away (slanted down) from the house. I think what may have happened is that the rain and snow melt pooled around where the bulbs were. If that is the case than I probably can never plant daffs there unless I have drainage piping put in and to be honest with you, that would take too much work because it's over a 1/4 acre around my house. Next fall, I'll give it one more shot and if it fails again then I'll know for sure what the problem is. Thanks for all your time in trying to help me figure out what the heck happened here.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 9:43PM
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