What's up with daffodil/narcissus bulbs ???

denninmi(8a)February 8, 2009

Hello, all.

I bought a number of daffodil and narcissus bulbs, including King Alfred, Ice Follies, Tete-a-Tete, and Paperwhites, last fall for forcing, along with a number of other bulbs -- tulips, hyacinths, crocus, iris, and muscari.

I've had a lot of the various narcissus sit there and refuse to grow roots, doing nothing. If the foliage does eventually grow, it is stunted and yellowed, and doesn't do anything, no flowers. Some of each kind are growing, but it doesn't make for a very full or attractive pot this way, with some normal, healthy bulbs and some stunted, dead ones.

Depending upon the variety, it seems that anywhere from 10% (Ice Follies) to about 75% (the paperwhites and tete-a-tetes) are bad.

Everything else is doing just fine, and yielding beautiful flowers. I've got crocus, hyacinths, and iris in bloom right now, and tulips will open in about 2 to 3 days. Everything was purchased from same sources and handled same way, planted same time, etc.

I've noticed this problem lately in narcissus, and I don't think it's anything I've done. I believe it's a problem that is coming with the bulbs. They LOOK ok to the naked eye. I haven't, but should, cut some of them open and see what's going on inside. The first sign or symptom is that, when potted last fall, put into the greenhouse and watered in prior to going into cold storage, many of the narcissus bulbs just did not grow roots. Ordinarily, roots pop out of these bulbs very quickly, within days of being planted and watered. But, many of these just sat there, even the ones that did eventually grow, for up to a month before anything happened. I was concerned at that point, but nothing really I could do about it.

Anyone know what this might be? Some type of disease problem? Or, perhaps something is being done to the bulbs in the supply chain, like being cooked in the back of a UPS truck on a hot day or something?


SE Michigan

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Hard to say without knowning more details about your forcing procedures but it is rather unlikely that it is something to do with the bulbs themselves, given that all your other bulb types are doing fine and you got them from the same place.

Paperwhites are about the easiest of all bulbs to force - they don't require a chill period and will grow roots and the beginning of foliage even in the stores and bulb outlets and will produce flowers promptly if grown only in rocks and water.

My immediate thought would be too moist a soil condition. Narcissus need soils that are just barely moist until they start producing top growth. Is that possible?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 11:00AM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

I'm wondering if the bulbs you bought had been out of the ground for more than the usual time.

Sometimes, when I've bought remaindered bulbs, they have behaved just as you describe and I put it down to being too long out of the ground. (The same with the inevitable bulb that escapes from the bucket and I find much later with a few roots, skimpy leaves, growing on the surface. Summer heat and not much protection.)

Could you buy a few bulbs from a different supplier to see if you get a more consistent result for next year?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 11:25PM
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I had the same experience, last November I bought firm good looking narcissus from a local garden center and they never grew. I grow them in a hurricane vase with decorative stones on the bottom, water touching the bottoms of the bulbs, same as I've done in the past, for success.

They sat there for weeks doing nothing, finally started to rot.

I was starting to think too, that they're being put into the market too soon, similarly, bringing mums into stores in mid august!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 9:56AM
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