Tulip bulbs are not coming up

maryg1411April 5, 2014

In the fall of 2012 we planted 750 tulip bulbs in beds around our foundation and around a tree in the front yard. Last spring (2013) it seemed as though every bulb came up and bloomed - the display was beautiful.

After the tulip blooms were spent we cut them off, leaving the foliage to deteriorate on it's own. After the leaves had died off we planted bedding plants in two of the beds and Zinnia seeds in the third. The Zinnias came up quickly and bloomed prolifically all summer long. After the first frost we removed the Zinnias and bedding plants for the winter.

Fast forward to this spring - In two of the beds only about half of the tulip bulbs have come up and in the bed that had the Zinnias last summer, not one single bulb has come back. We are perplexed as to what we did wrong. The Zinnia bed receives full sun almost all day while the other two receive varying degrees of sunlight for parts of the day.

We certainly don't want to make the same mistake again. Any ideas on what went wrong or what we can do better in the future are greatly appreciated.

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jerseygirl07603 z6NJ

What a disappointment! 250 is a lot of tulips. What comes to mind are 2 things:
1. How deep did you plant them? I find deeper is better. 9 to 12 inches deep give mine better chance of survival in subsequent years.
2. What type of tulips did you plant? Some unfortunately are basically annuals. I've had species and Darwins come back for years and years.
Oh and one more thing - are they in a well-drained spot? Could they have rotted from too much moisture?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 3:46PM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

I thought the same as Jerseygirl. Tulips, as other spring bulbs, need dry conditions in the summer while they're dormant. If you dig around where they were you may discover what happened.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 10:00PM
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Darwin hybrids are generally the most perennial of tulips, but the sad reality is that tulips in general are not long lived. Some will return for a few years, but most will not.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 10:27PM
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Campanula UK Z8

if treated like bearded iris - that is, kept dry and baked over summer, they are more inclined to return. The shaded soil (zinnias) may not have helped....but I would still expect to see evidence of growth, even if the plants were either blind or small flowered. I would suggest having an exploratory dig about.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 4:46PM
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