Thursday, June 12, 2008

Why No Flowers?

I live in south-east Ontario, near Peterborough and found several bulbs in my garden this spring that were planted by the previous owner of the property. They are 2 to 2-and-a-half inches in size and had quite thick roots. The foliage was about 8-10 inches tall, the colour of daffodils and the leaves very similar too…but less pointed. They didn’t flower. Have you any idea what they might be? I am enclosing shots of the plant and hope that you will be able to use them.


It does look to me like those are daffodils you have in your garden. Of course there are many bulbs that have that same foliage and habit, and without a flower IDing them can be tough. As far as why no blooms, my best guess is that it has to do with the nutrients in the soil. Certainly there is enough nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is one the macronutrients that a plant relies on, and it helps a plant to produce healthy green foliage and photosynthesize. Another macronutrient that plants rely on is phosphorous, and adding phosphorous to the soil typically helps a plant to produce a larger and more profuse flower. Having a number of bulbs produce foliage but no flower I’m guessing there is either not enough sun or not enough phosphorous. From the photos it seems like the bulbs are getting plenty of light and they ought to be flowering. So, therefore, this is what I would do. This fall when your local garden center or nursery puts out all of their bulb displays, look at the fertilizers they are selling. Each fertilizer has three numbers printed on the label, and those are the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash (potassium) respectively in each dose. What you want to find and apply to your yard is a fertilizer with a high middle number. I am guessing you will most likely find it in a granular form. You can apply it this fall and it should break down and leach into the soil over the winter months so that as the roots of the daffodils begin to grow early spring they can get the much needed boost and then go back to their flowering selves. Of course, if you feel your soil has been properly amended and has all of the necessary nutrients then it might be worth getting a soil test done. In fact, if it is a new property a soil test is probably worth doing regardless. It can help you avoid a lot of guessing in the long run.

1 comment:

  1. I live in Dayton, Ohio and I have these bulbs. I know them as Magic Lillies. They have green foliage in the spring like daffodils, the foliage dies in early June and like magic in mid July a long stem appears that has a pink to violet lilly flower. Google magic lilly images for more info.