ADS Executive Director

no blooms

July 11, 2019

Categories: American Daffodil Society, General

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Good morning.

We received this from Barbara Alcott who lives in North Carolina.

From: Barbara R Alcott
Subject: Daffodil blooms

Message Body:

This was a second year with the bulbs we planted. They bloomed the first year but not this year. What is the problem and how can we insure abundant blooms next spring?

Thank you for responding! We are located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The bulbs are planted where they get both sun and shade – maybe half and half. They had lots of dark green foliage. We had lots of rain this spring.

I have read online that perhaps they need to be fertilized. If so, what kind would be best?

I would be grateful for all the info and input I can get – please post my question.

Since I did not use tri phosphate when I planted, what & when should I fertilize? We did not cut or knot the foliage. Learned that from my Dad years ago.

Thanks for all your help! Barb

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5 Responses to no blooms

  1. Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    Clay Higgins, New Jersey
    July 13, 2019 at 5:38 am

    Raleigh, NC should not be much of a problem growing daffodils. However, before a knowledgeable comment can be made more information needs to be had.

    1. Are/Were the daffodils originally thick planted. They could already be crowding each other if so.

    2. How deep were they planted?

    3. Soil condition. Was the soil tested by the Cooperative Extension Service for nematodes and for acidity, etc? Nematodes are a serious problem in NC because of the “former & present” tobacco farming. Root and stem nematodes.

    4. Are the daffodils getting water in the summer from yard sprinkler systems? Are the daffodils planted where water does not stand?

    5. It’s very hot in Raleigh in summer, do the daffodils have mulch or other covering to keep them cool. It’s hot and dry in Raleigh in summer, did the daffodils get irrigation during the bloom season?


  2. Mary Lou Gripshover, Ohio
    Mary Lou Gripshover, Ohio
    July 13, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    Sometimes it takes awhile for new bulbs to settle in to your growing conditions.  The bulbs you bought had the buds inside the bulb, ready to grow and bloom.  As long as your foliage looks good, I wouldn’t worry this year.  They’re adapting to your culture, so wait and see how they do next year.

    Mary Lou

  3. David Adams, New Zealand
    July 15, 2019 at 3:36 am

    This is a question I am often asked. Some of what I answer has already been covered by Clay and Mary Lou.

    The flowering buds in daffodils are initiated during the summer. I guess that this is about in August/September in the Northern Hemisphere. It is what you do this year that makes next year’s flowers.

    Research in England many year’s ago found that bulbs need at least six weeks growth after flowering to initiate this development. This means that the leaves must be left intact for this time. Cutting or tying the leaves before this time denies the bulb of the nutrients needed for bud formation. Light and water are essential for this.

    Mary Lou suggests that you are in a dry summer climate similar to mine. We plant our bulbs at least 8″ deep. Shallow planted bulbs divide and multiply into bulbs that are too small to flower. I believe that this is a survival mechanism. Smaller bulbs need less water but are too small to flower.

    A cover of annuals or other shade plants eg dahlia or hosta will keep your bulbs cool during summer and facilitate better health. They also provide a cover for the untidy, dying leaves.

    Nitrogen is a no no for bulbs. It gives great leaf growth and soft bulbs that are susceptible to fungal rot. Warmth plus moisture = fungal growth.

    As Mary Lou indicates if the leaves are weak and yellow then the diseases that Clay suggests may be the problem and bulbs should be lifted and destroyed.

    So, water until the end of June, fertilise with potash and maybe some dolomite through February and March, plant deep and maybe provide a cool overgrowth through summer.

    David Adams




  4. ADS Executive Director
    ADS Executive Director
    July 18, 2019 at 6:28 am

    Hi All

    Barbara isn’t an ADS member. Here is her response to your questions:


    I have read all comments. To answer the further questions – thebulbs were not crowded when planted. They were planted about 6 inches in depth. I have not had the soil tested. The bed is watered with a hose. There is no standing water. The leaves looked very healthy – just no blooms. Should they be fertilized through March with potash and/or dolomite?

    Thanks for all the help. I appreciate it!


  5. David Adams, New Zealand
    July 18, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    I can only make three other comments. Planting depth may still be an issue. Secondly doubles and some older cultivars can be reluctant bloomers. Hand watering may not get water to the depth required. After watering check how far the water has actually gone down. Often hand watering only penetrates a few inch then evaporates off the top. For all the garden a solid soaking every few days is more effective than a daily sprinkle.