The tulip (Tulipa), a member of the lily family, grows perennial and herbaceous and, depending on the variety, with heights of 10 to 70 cm. There are tulips that not only impress with their flower shape or color, but also with an intense scent. They adorn herbaceous beds, rock gardens or the edge of lawns. But what if the tulips don’t bloom, what could be the causes?

When the tulip blooms fail

The tulip is one of the first heralds of spring. With around 150 species, it is by far the largest and most varied genus among the bulbous flowers. They are available in almost every flower color, in a wide variety of color combinations and with an intense fragrance. While some feel most comfortable in the partial shade of larger trees, others prefer rather light locations in rock gardens, but also bowls and pots. When the tulips refuse to bloom, the gardener’s heart hurts. If the flower does not bloom, it can have different causes.

Causes and solutions

In spring they are eagerly awaited and after a few weeks it is over again with the blooming splendor. If the tulip is properly cared for after it has faded, it will show its colorful flowers again next year. On the other hand, mistakes in care, planting, an unfavorable location but also pests, especially voles, can quickly destroy the hope of a new tulip bloom in the next year.

Nutritional deficiency

Tulips can only develop flowers if they are given sufficient nutrients. They are heavy consumers and accordingly need a lot of nutrients. The larger the flowers, the greater the need for nutrients. A deficiency can be remedied relatively easily.

  • Work some compost or horn shavings into the soil as early as spring
  • or use other organic fertilizers with a high potassium and magnesium content
  • generally fertilize while the leaves are emerging until shortly before flowering
  • In addition to regular fertilization, pruning at the right time is also important
  • After flowering, onions draw nutrients from the green parts of the plant
  • Let the leaves and stems stand until they are withered

If the green parts of the tulip are also cut off immediately after flowering, important nutrients that it needs for a good start to the next season will be lost. Therefore, the leaves should stand until they are completely withered.

Too much wet

Another cause of missing flowers can be too much moisture or too wet autumn or winter. If too much rain cannot drain away, the tulip bulbs can quickly rot and mold. This in turn can severely weaken the onions and, in the worst case, even completely spoil them.

  • too much moisture is not only a problem in autumn and winter
  • even in summer in too wet locations
  • between other plants that require a lot of water and are watered frequently
  • Onions can rot easily there
  • therefore pay attention to the correct location
  • to avoid the risk of too much moisture, dig up onions
  • only after they have completely yellowed or withered
  • store in a shady and dry place after excavation
Tip: Small daughter onions, which are separated from the mother onion and planted separately, take up to three years to bloom for the first time.

Unfavorable site conditions

If tulips do not want to bloom, this is partly due to the location or the soil. These bulb flowers can stand in the same location for several years, provided they are in sandy, summer-dry soils, where the bulbs can always dry off well. This can be under trees, in front of hedges or between shrubs and roses.

When replanting, however, you should be careful to choose locations where there were no tulips in previous years. The onions can be damaged by soil fungus, so that over the years the flowering is less and less or it stops completely, the soil becomes ‘tulip-tired’.

Failure in planting

Errors in planting can also result in the tulips developing leaves but not flowers. This primarily applies to the time of planting as well as the depth and distance of the planting.

  • to sprout in spring, plant hardy tulip bulbs before the first frost
  • best time in autumn, between September and mid-November
  • when the soil has already cooled slightly
  • usually when the outside temperature is below ten degrees
  • If bulbs are planted too deeply, usually only leaves and no flowers are formed
  • Planting depth varies depending on the nature of the soil and the size of the bulb
  • in sandy soils, to a depth of 30 cm
  • in normal garden soil, between 15 and 20 cm deep
  • always cover with soil twice the height of the onion
  • Recommended for planting distances of around 15 cm
Tip:  Even if the tulip bulb finds optimal conditions, it initially only forms leaves in the year it is planted and stores the necessary reserves for flowering in the following year. In order to be able to enjoy the tulip blossom every year, it is advisable to place fresh onions between the already planted ones every two or three years.


The best location and the best care are of no use if pests, especially voles, tamper with the tulip bulbs. Flower bulbs are high on the menu for these pesky rodents. Once you have located the bulbs, it is usually not just the flowers that fail to appear. These onions can usually not be saved; only good prevention can help. This stipulates that the onions are planted in such a way that the rodents have no way of getting at them.

To do this, you can put them in the ground in plant baskets of approx. A larger planting hole is excavated and it is clad in a nest-like manner with a dense network of clippings or brushwood, both the bottom and the side walls. Then you fill up with earth until all spaces are closed. Then you put the tulip bulbs in the middle and cover them loosely with earth. So the onions should be well protected from vole damage.

Tulips are among the most beautiful and multifaceted spring bloomers. Its flowers impress with a large variety of colors and shapes. Depending on the planting time, they bloom between late March and early May. Occasionally it also happens that the flowers fail to bloom in spite of the green leaves. Then it is important to find out the causes and take appropriate countermeasures.

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