Why Aren’t My Bulbs Blooming?

One of the things I love about my spring garden is the blooming of my crocus, tulip, hyacinths and daffodils. I planted all in groupings a few years ago. The first year or two, the results were stunning. Last year, my daffodils did not do as well. I assumed it was because we had a wacky winter, followed by a wacky wet and cold spring. Judging from the foliage and lack of blooms, something else is the issue, so let’s take a look at why bulbs refuse to bloom.

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Researching Why Bulbs Do Not Bloom

After researching the issue, I found a good article from the University of Illinois Extension called Bulbs that Refuse to Bloom. In order to evaluate what is affecting my daffodils, we must review causes of bloom failure. The following summarizes the University of Illinois Extension’s findings:

  • If bulbs were planted in fall and there are no blooms or foliage in spring, a critter, like voles or squirrels, may have eaten the bulbs.
  • Bigger bulbs produce better blooms. When purchasing bulbs, seek the largest bulbs within that variety where possible.
  • Bulbs should be fed with a 5-10-10 fertilizer granules at planting and when leaves emerge.
  • Bulbs may be overfed with nitrogen. Nitrogen encourages leaf production – check the first number on the fertilizer bag. Do not use lawn fertilizer on bulbs.
  • Lack of sun – bulbs need full sun to grow which is about 6-8 hours per day.
  • If planted in a garden, bulbs could be in competition for nutrients with other plants. Neighboring plants that overcrowding or shade prevent nutrients from reaching these plants.
  • Check the drainage where bulbs are planted. Bulbs need a well-draining location so the bulbs do sit in water and rot.
  • Foliage that is cut back too early the prior spring affects the following year’s blooms. Bulbs need that foliage to prepare for the following year. Fold, tie and rubber band foliage to neaten up the appearance instead of cutting back to the ground right away. Do not cut the foliage back until it is yellow.
  • If bulbs were transplanted, they may be stressed from the move and need more time to re-acclimate.
  • When bulbs produce weaker foliage, stop blooming, or otherwise lose their vigor, suspect a virus. If leaves have mottled or streaking appearance to them, dig them up and toss them before they affect other bulbs near them in the garden. Do not compost them.
  • Environmental conditions from the prior growing season.
  • If they have been located in the same place for several years, bulbs should be dug and divided after the leaves yellow in spring.

But Why Didn’t My Daffodils Bloom?

After reading the University of Illinois Extension’s article, there are a few reasons my daffodils did not bloom well this year.


My daffodils have been in my garden for about five years. New Jersey had a very wet, rainy year during 2018. We had snow through last April and the temps were not ideal during last year’s growing season. Since we had a very wet year, poor drainage waterlogged this area of the garden at times. I suspect lack of drainage and excessive moisture are part of the problem.

My daffodils are planted in a perennial garden but are not competing with other plants. They receive plenty of sunlight and are not shaded.


I have not fertilized them since planting them – I just let them grow. There are annuals in the area that I fertilize – I will check the nitrogen number on the bag to insure it’s not too high for the bulbs sited in the same area. Next year, I will add some 5-10-10 fertilizer to my bulbs when they start to break ground to see if that helps.

Foliage and their Care

I let my foliage die back every and do not cut them back until they are pretty yellow, dried out and almost gone. Therefore, that is not the cause.

After analyzing the foliage, I do not believe it suffered from a virus. The foliage looks green and healthy – it just lacks blooms, so let’s rule that out.

Location and Time Spent in the Garden

Since my daffodils have been in the ground for several years, I will will dig them up when the foliage yellows, divide and move them to another spot in my gardens. Hopefully, they will find future success in their new locations.

Final Thoughts

After researching and analyzing potential causes, there are a few issues affecting daffodil blooms: excessive moisture from both the rain and lack of drainage, the bulbs need to be divided, relocated, and fed with a 5-10-10 fertilizer. I will also check the nitrogen level on the fertilizer I use for my annuals to be sure those daffodils are not receiving too much nitrogen.

How are your daffodils growing this season? I hope you found this post helpful. Please leave your ideas, comments & more below or contact me here. Be sure to find me @bricksnblooms on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram!

Thank you for following along and sharing with me. Happy planting – enjoy your day! xo

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