Why Won’t My Bulbs Flower?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante
Credit: Shutterstock / Abo Photography

It’s quite exciting to plant some bulbs in your garden and wait for them to bloom. That excitement goes away when the bulbs never bloom, and you’re left wondering what went wrong. So, why won’t my bulbs flower?

Bulbs won’t flower if the soil is soggy and doesn’t drain well, or if they get less than 6 hours of sunlight per day. Avoid planting too many bulbs near each other, or else they may become overcrowded and fail to bloom. You rarely need to plant bulbs deeper than 6” as they won’t flower if you plant them too deep.

Put some chicken wire in your garden near the bulbs to protect them from pests, like rabbits and squirrels. Follow along as we explore why your bulbs won’t flower and highlight solutions.

Why Didn’t My Bulbs Bloom?

1. Soggy Soil

Nothing is worse for bulbs than soggy soil. Soil can become soggy due to overwatering and excessive rain, but it’s often a drainage issue. Some soil simply retains too much water and drains it too slowly.

The last thing you want is for your bulb to sit in water for too long, and that happens with slow-draining soil. This can lead to bulb rot where the bulb is simply too soggy to grow, so it rots instead.

2. Pests

Nothing in your garden is safe from pests, and that includes bulbs. Squirrels and rabbits love to target bulbs and other newly planted flowers in gardens. They often return to the same spots because they know there’s a reliable food source nearby.

The best way to keep rodents and other pests away from your bulbs is to set up some chicken wire. You can build a small chicken wire enclosure around the soil bed where you planted the bulbs. Otherwise, you can save time and simply lay the chicken wire on the ground above the bulbs.

You can also spray rabbit repellent around your garden, so they stay away from the bulbs. It also helps to plant rhubarb, garlic, and basil in your garden. Rabbits and other pests hate these strong scents, and it will naturally repel them.

3. They Aren’t Mature

Garden centers typically sell high-quality bulbs, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, you may accidentally buy bulbs that aren’t mature yet. Sadly, there’s no way to realize this until you plant the bulbs, and they never grow.

There’s nothing you can do about this, unfortunately. That said, it’s worth it to visit another plant nursery and buy some high-quality bulbs, so it doesn’t happen again.

4. Not Enough Sunlight

Location is everything when it comes to gardens, especially when you have bulbs that need lots of sunlight. Most bulbs need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day to grow and eventually flower. Watch your garden and pay attention to where the sunlight shines the longest throughout the day.

Never plant bulbs in shady areas, especially beneath trees, or else they won’t likely flower. This may take some trial and error, so don’t go too hard on yourself if you plant your bulbs in the wrong spot the first time.

5. Overcrowding

It’s all too easy to accidentally overcrowd your flower beds with too many bulbs. This often happens if you plant bulbs too close to bulbs from previous years. It can also happen if you plant fresh bulbs too close together.

The easiest way to fix this problem is to dig up old bulbs and discard them or plant them somewhere else. Keep track of where you plant each bulb, so you don’t run into the same problem next year.

6. You Cut The Flowers Too Soon

Your first instinct may be to trim the foliage from your plants that flower from bulbs. However, that’s a mistake, and it may explain why your old bulbs won’t flower. Bulbs rely on the energy that the foliage gets from sunlight.

Without this energy, the bulbs may not be healthy enough to continue to flower. Bulbs often can’t bounce back when this happens, and you may get stuck with bulbs that simply won’t flower again. Leave foliage above the ground to act as a conduit between the sun, soil, and bulb.

7. The Bulb Is Too Deep

Believe it or not, you don’t need to plant bulbs nearly as deep as you may think. You only need to dig a hole with a depth that is 2-3 times the size of the bulb. Of course, the depth of the hole ultimately depends on the size of the bulb you plant.

Gardeners commonly plant tulip bulbs up to 6” deep. You run the risk of bulb rot if you plant the bulbs too deep, and in that case, they won’t flower.

8. Infertile Soil

Soil fertility is just as important as drainage when it comes to ideal growing conditions for plants. Everything from salinity and acidity to nutrients can affect how healthy your soil is. Sadly, some batches of soil simply aren’t fertile enough for bulbs to bloom.

Soil can also become less fertile over time due to erosion, especially if it doesn’t drain well. Luckily, you can often fix infertile soil if you simply add some fertilizer. Simply fertilize the soil to infuse it with nutrients that will help the bulbs grow. It also helps to spread some bonemeal in the soil.

9. Unhealthy Bulbs

Like any plant, some bulbs are simply unhealthy because of viruses and diseases. That’s why it’s a great idea to inspect bulbs at the store before you buy them. Look for fungus, mold, and abnormal streaks on the bulb that can indicate it’s unhealthy.

Diseased bulbs often feel squishy to the touch, as opposed to solid and dense. Throw away any diseased and unhealthy bulb, as it sadly won’t ever bloom.

Summing It Up

If your bulbs won’t flower, it’s likely because of poor soil drainage. Immature bulbs won’t flower, and some nurseries sell bulbs that were harvested too soon. Otherwise, it could be a problem of infertile soil, overcrowding, lack of sunlight, and pests.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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