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Its March and my tulips have no stem and buds are opening - why

Myself and my daughter bought loads of tall variety tulips in Autumn to produce a picking garden.   Mine are in the ground my daughters in large pots but they are all doing the same thing.   The stems are not growing and the bulb is producing the flower bud which is trying to open at ground level.   Is this down to weather conditions?   What can we do, there is a lot of money invested in these crops.


  • Mine are doing this too!! very strange, I thought maybe I buried them too deep but im not so sure.
  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,220
    edited March 2019
    Not sure if it is true of Tulips, but some bulbs need a period of cold to make the stems elongate. Scilla tubergeniana (as was) will flower below  soil level without frosty weather over winter. So it could well be down to the unusually warm winter.

    This from a Tulip expert may explain
    Temperatures during certain times in a tulip's development will affect stem length. Tulip bulbs need a certain amount of time in cold temperatures in order to release certain growth hormones. (This happens naturally during the winter.) These hormones will cause the emerging flower stems to lengthen. But if bulbs are planted too late in the fall, or experience a warm spell in winter, they may not have enough chilling time. In that case, the resulting plants may have short stems.

  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,341
    Last year, that happened to the few I had left after tulip blight got most of them so based on experience, not expertise, stunted tulips with short stems can happen after mild winters/droughts. The stunted ones were free of any signs of blight and they were in a cooler part of the garden. My morning winter temps do drop as low as -8c, but the warm days and generally milder winters here mean I have had to give up on growing them.

    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923
    are the buds opening or can you just see them?
    as the stems can extend a lot in a short time before they flower,
    just it seems a bit early for tulip flowers? they usually flower late April/early May here in the NE of England
  • Thanks everyone for your advice.   I believe it is probably due to the hot weather we had in February when it got up to 17 degrees for several days.   I will continue to monitor and report back how they eventually fare.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,312
    I haven't got any tulips but many of my snowdrops were flowering at about 2" out of the ground

    In the sticks near Peterborough
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