Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Garden Update: Why Aren't My Jonquils Blooming?

This time last year we were transplanting jonquil bulbs we'd dug up from my mother's place on the river around our house here in the city, in hopes they'd grow and multiply, bringing a little bit of history and familiarity each spring.

Read the full story with more of the family and historical background on these blooms in this post.

We went into it knowing we were digging the bulbs up outside of the recommended timeframe for transplanting. Typically you'd want to dig up a bulb just after the spring in an almost dormant stage, when the flowers have died and the leaves are just beginning to yellow and brown.

That being said, we weren't sure when we'd be back so wanted to get them while we could see them. We'd heard stories of bulbs that have been transplanted not producing blooms the next year or simply not coming back at all, so were a little nervous putting them into the ground once we got home. As you can see in the photo below, the plants did perk back up nicely after being in the ground a few days, so we crossed our fingers and have had high hopes for their return.

This year I was watching eagerly for those classic green tips to poke up from the ground in mid to late February and was elated when they did — every single bulb we planted came back with beautiful, strong green leaves:

I couldn't wait to see if they would produce blooms over the past several weeks, but here's the thing — they haven't.

After digging around on the internet trying to understand why they haven't produced blooms, it looks like it could be a couple factors:

1. Digging up the bulbs in full bloom last year may have shocked the plant, we may have actually damaged portions of the bulb during the transplant and it generally just may take 2-3 seasons for the bulb to regenerate and nourish itself in the new habitat before producing blooms again.

2. I may have planted the bulbs too deep. It sounds like the standard rule is planting a jonquil bulb 3 times the width of the bulb into the ground. This sounds about like what I did, but I honestly can't remember. I'm learning that bulbs planted too deep will use up too much energy just trying to sprout greens above the ground, not leaving enough to produce a bloom.

While the plants do look a bit tall and leggy, I'm hoping it's simply a matter of the shock of transplant that will just solve itself with time — and time should tell. If we don't get blooms again next year, it may be the latter. What do you think? Ever had experience with transplanting bulbs that didn't return bulbs — what turned out to be the fix?

Discover More


  1. Just wait. See what happens next year. Did you put any "bulb food" in the hole when you planted them by any chance? If not, you could get some and scratch it in around the soil's surface just to give them a boost. Do it now for next year and leave the foliage until it totally dies and withers before you remove it. I'd wait and see! I think they will bloom eventually!

  2. Get some Espoma Bulb-Tone and feed them when the leaves die down. Just top dress and water it in good. You should do that every spring anyway, but especially if they didn't bloom.

  3. I've had it happen with a few other varieties of plants - specifically Virginia Bluebells, hellebores and Trillium. Some plants need a few years to establish they are happy I guess.

  4. Bonemeal in the spring, wood ash in the fall. Are they in the sun?