Tired of Waiting for Bulbs

woodswalker88(6)May 12, 2012

In March I planted several of those bags of bulbs from Lowes- Asiatic Lily, Siberian Iris, and McKana Hybrids Columbine. It is now May and almost nothing has come up. Weather-wise, it has been weird here in southeast PA--winter was unseasonably warm with very little snow, March was even more warm, in the 70s and even 80s a few times. Then we had a month or so of no rain. OK... maybe that's why my bulbs never came up? Oh--also I planted a bunch of day lilys last fall. A few got nibbled by rabbits, the rest never even made an appearance.

I'm tired of waiting & looking at blank spaces in the garden. Thinking of giving up on the bulbs and just planting something that is already there, like flowering shrubs...something that can't get gnawed by rabbits or just never stick it's head above the ground.

Or should I wait & hope the bulbs will appear next year?

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karin_mt(4 MT)

I've never grown lilies, but for the iris and columbine, I'd probably give up on them. Those aren't bulbs in the literal sense - they are bare root plants. (well the lilies are bulbs but the other 2 aren't) Bare root plants should start growing as soon as conditions permit and they should certainly be up by now. True bulbs will wait for the proper season and will be more or less dormant until then.

But these plants ought to be up and I would not wait for them. If they don't emerge this year they definitely won't show up next year. You might consider digging one or two up and bringing your receipt and the plants back to the store for a refund.

Sorry it didn't work out!


    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 10:18AM
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I agree! Bare root perennials are quite different from bulbs and IMO, are a lot more iffy trying to get started in that form. But.....you can find both iris and columbine as started plants at pretty much any garden center in spring. Personally, I would not waste my money on bare root starts from places like Lowe's as you have no idea when they were harvested or how they were stored. And that makes all the difference on how likely they are to ever show signs of life.

Same with the dayliles - these are not bulbs either but fleshy rooted perennials and can be found at virtually any nursery at this time of year as already started plants.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 12:35PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I agree, generally, but I have had good results buying Trilliums from L's this way when I lived in OH. True bulbs are much more reliable and forgiving about being packaged like that. If you want to try these packages in the future, don't buy any that aren't showing signs of life - foliage sprouting, visible roots, something that gives you confidence that it's ready to start growing immediately.

Columbine are easy to grow from seeds, you might want to consider that route.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:19AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

They were likely dead when you bought them. Those packages at big box stores often are. Many of the plants in them are not bulbs and do not appreciate being treated as if they are.

Daylilies are very easy to bare root and ship but they should have growing green crowns on them when you receive and plant. These crowns should not be buried. Daylilies aren't bulbs either....

I would go to an independent garden center. While there can be bargains at big box stores, often you are wasting your money. Even if your "bulbs" came up, they would likely not be what is pictured on the package.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 11:51AM
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I appreciate all your replies. I suspect the weather might have had something to do with it...we didn't get much snow, and then in March it was 80 degrees with no rain for a month. I didn't water them because I thought they would remain dormant till it rained. Now we're getting LOTS of rain. Anyway after hearing everyone tell me I should give up, I planted a bunch of perennials in the space, and dug up some of the daylily bulb/roots. They looked about the same as when I planted them. I wonder what happened?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 8:46PM
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Campanula UK Z8

no no, woodswalker - they never had a chance so do not berate yourself or the weather. There are many reasons for not buying bulbs from huge chains such as Costco. Buy your next bulbs from a reputable bulb nursery - In the UK, I buy wholesale although it is possible to buy tulips in 25s for the same price as 7-10 bulbs at retail cost in prepacked bags. They are dug up from the fields and dispatched within a short time period and will come to you looking fat and alive. Bulbs, for a beginner, are absolutely the gardeners friend. They are complete within themselves and truly want to emerge in full fettle. Good bulbs are practically foolproof, top value and good value. Even paying shipping costs for mail order will prove to be more worthwhile and reliable than scenting a bargain or buying cheaply from a box store. Please don't give up on bulbs.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 4:38PM
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actually I believe the daylilies did come from a mail-order nursery...
and my experiences with mail order nurseries have been disappointing. Mostly they send nothing but sticks. Very few of them have lived, and even if they did...I prefer the gratification of planting something that looks like a plant right Now, not in a few years. It is cheaper to go with the mail-order nurseries, but I'll never do it again!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 6:23PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

You aren't buying from the right mail order nurseries!

Daylilies are not bulbs and must have green growing crowns when you receive them or they are dead/garbage.

If they don't look like this picture when you receive them, you've been ripped off. They grow and look like "real" plants in a few weeks.

Here is a link that might be useful: picture of bareroot daylily

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 6:42PM
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Carolinaflowerlover NC Zone 7b

Did you toss them yet? You can take them back to Lowes, at least, and get a refund.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 11:10PM
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This thread kind of died out, but I had another thought: the tags for my deadbeat bulbs all say "zone 3". We are zone 6 but we definitely had a zone 7 or 8 winter. Hardly any snow and it rarely got below 30. Maybe these bulbs need a hard freeze or some kind of signal for them to start up their growing cycle?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 10:27AM
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No, the zone designation is for the coldest temps they will take.....all grow perfectly well in my Z8-9 climate regardless of how severe - or not - our winters are.

The reason these plants failed is simply they were inferior stock improperly stored. Virtually nothing you could do and no amount of benificent weather would make any difference. Bare root perennials - not bulbs - are just a very iffy method of starting these plants. They are best planted as containerized starts at the appropriate time of year, rather than shriveled and dry, tiny little root crowns.

When you think about it and what they looked like when you planted them, it makes pretty logical sense :-))

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 12:32PM
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