Question From: A. Maher - Livonia, Michigan, United States
Q: Years ago you would plant spring bulbs (tulips/daffodils) and they would come back year after year and even spread. The last 10 years or so it seems that the bulbs just put on a good show for 1-2 years then just produce foliage then not even that. I've tried everything from high end bulbs from catalogs to the ones from the corner hardware store. I've not had any issues growing anything else (shrubs, perennials, annuals) in the same soil. This year I noticed in the bulb catalogs that they have a category called "perennial tulips" (I thought they all were perennials). What kind of tulip and daffodil bulbs should I buy so that they come back every year and do well? Thank you.
Ann, Most daffodils are perennial here in Michigan. Exceptions may be the pink centered ones. The reasons they fail to come back every year is lack of sun. Planting too early in the season. Too much water after they have gone dormant. Removing the leaves too soon in spring. They need to be left intact till about the middle of June or when the leaves turn yellow. Over fertilizing will also damage the bulbs. Removing the spent blossoms also helps. I have daffs I planted in a field that have returned for more then a decade. I do not fertilize them. Spraying weed killer on the leaves will also do them in. Most tulips are treated as annual here in Michigan. You may get two or three years out of Darwins, but they must be planted in an area that stays on the dry side after they bloom. The smaller specie tulips such as gregeii may bloom again for a couple of years. I treat them all as annuals in my garden and then I'm not disappointed. Hope this helps. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy.