but no flowers
late autumn, I planted iris and tulip bulbs in containers. Lots
of foliage grew very quickly, however the plants never flowered
and are now dying down. What might have caused this?
most bulbs are already flowering size when sold, it's possible yours
were too small. When choosing bulbs at the garden centre, pick the
biggest ones you can find as they will already have the flower bud
initiated inside the bulb. Small bulbs may need another year before
they'll flower. Tulips can be extra tricky, especially in mild parts
of the country. They may flower in the first year after planting
then not again. This is often because they don't experience a sufficiently
long cold period to stimulate flowering.
You could try to create
these conditions by storing tulip bulbs in a paper bag in the vege
crisper of your fridge for 4-6 weeks before planting in May or June.
Make sure you don't have fruit or tomatoes in the fridge too, as
they can give off a gas that has a negative effect on the bulbs.
Plant tulips deeper
than most other bulbs - around 15cm deep. With irises, don't plant
them any deeper than 2-3 times the height of the bulb. Ideally use
a specialised bulb potting mix for containers as the extra nutrients
in general potting mix may encourage excessive leaf growth. And
don't be tempted to plant bulbs too early, leave it until the soil
has cooled, from late April onwards in most areas.
Gardener, Issue 135, 2003, Page 27
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.