Transplant shock

columbiasc(Columbia SC)March 28, 2009

Why don't purchased bulbs go into shock and not bloom the first year? They almost always bloom the first year they are put in the ground. Yet, most books and articles claim many bulbs go into shock when transplanted and won't bloom for a year or two. How do the commercial growers get around this?


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Bulbs you buy in bloom, in spring, in pots, when transplanted, may not come for a couple years.

The first spring bloom, for new fall planted bulbs in the ground, is a little late. Bulbs transplanted will bloom the next year.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 7:53PM
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columbiasc(Columbia SC)

Scott Ogden, the author of Garden Bulbs of the South, the virtual Bible of southern bulbs talks about this characteristic a lot when attempting to translplant bulbs. I bought some Paperwhites (dormant bulbs, not plants) last year and put them in the ground in the fall. Spring rolled around and they bloomed just fine. This year, foliage only. I have experienced the same result with various types of bulbs purchased from Lowes, local garden centers and Old House Gardens. Many varieties need to settle in before they start blooming. Yet, the bulbs I buy will typically bloom the first year only then skip a year or two. So.....the question remains, how do the commercial growers pull this first year after transplant bloom off?


    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 9:25PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

The problem is not transplant shock. For a bulb to bloom the flower has to be already formed in the bulb. After a bloom the foliage continues to produce energy that is used to form next years bloom in the bulb, before the foliage dies back. Bulb growers cut off the bloom to prevent the plant from producing seed and using the energy they want to go into the bulb. When I dig my tulips after they die back, I measure the bulb. I have found that a bulb with a circumference of at least 12cm will bloom next year. Al

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 9:34PM
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columbiasc(Columbia SC)

Okay, I understand all that, but I rarely cut back the bloom stem after my bulbs flower because I encourage seeds and natuarlizing. Even then, they bloom next year, unless I move them.

Roadside "daffs" get no attention and they almost always bloom every year. Unless I salvage a few as the foliage is browning. Then they usually skip a year or two.

Still looking for "the trick" that growers use. Someone out there must have worked for a commercial grower at one time.

Not being difficult, just looking for "the trick".


    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 7:23PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Hi Scott,

but I rarely cut back the bloom stem after my bulbs flower because I encourage seeds and natuarlizing.
Faded blooms should be snipped off as it takes energy for the bulb to produce seed pods, at the expense of next years bloom.

Taken from the link below...
7. Bulbs may be stressed from transplanting. (Some varieties seem to skip a year of blooming if dug and replanted in a different environment. Some varieties bought from a grower in one climate may have a difficult period of adjustment to a vastly different climate. They may bloom the first year off the previous year's bulb, but then be unable to adequately build a flower for the following year.)

My guess is that most bulbs are much hardier than your zone, so they are raised in a zone much colder than yours. Because of this, what I have posted above would likely apply to bulbs being transplanted into your 'warmer' zone.



Here is a link that might be useful: Daffodils Not Blooming?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 8:02AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Daffodils in this zone out compete the weeds and are generally ignored. They have taken over large areas of the garden. Because this area gets rain only from November to May, the whole growth and flowering period is wet and nothing is required of the gardener. The only time flowering has been less than normal has been when an area has become too shady due to tree growth. Tulips newly purchased properly chilled and planted will always take about two weeks longer to bloom than the same species saved from the year before and chilled and planted at the same time. I have always thought this was due to the different growing zone of the new tulips. Al

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 8:37AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Hi guys,
I was just thinking that maybe there actually is some kind of "grower's secret". Not really a secret exactly, but some difference in curing or storing that might encourage bloom or make the bulbs wait before they sprout.... I notice that tulips I dig each year already have signs of roots and shoots in the fall far before the ones I purchase do. I guess just the cooler temps start the roots growing on mine whereas it doesn't effect the purchased bulbs.

As far as bloom the first year goes, the thing that is sorta hard to deal with is that regardless of how good you think your gardening skills are it's hard to compare to a bulb farm with close to ideal conditions of full sun, good soil, just the right fertilizer at just the right time..... you know? Maybe they need a year to "come off the juice" as far as adjusting to a new spot.

Just some thoughts......

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 7:55PM
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