Why Don't Spring Bulbs Flower

It's very disappointing, after all the hard work in the autumn  planting bulbs, only to find they  do not flower the next year.  The best time to resolve the problem is in the spring when the bulbs should be flowering and are in leaf. The most common reason for a bulb not flowering is that it has been planted too shallow. Whilst the plant is in leaf, but not flower,  is the best time to dig up the bulb and re plant to a greater depth. There can be different reasons for different types of bulbs and here are some tips to make sure the spring bulbs flower next year.

No flowers on daffodils - Blind daffodils


If daffodils come into leaf but produce no flowers they are known as blind daffodils the causes are:


  • Planting too shallow is a most common cause;  it is essential that bulbs are planted at least three times their height into the soil. This is the most common cause of daffodils not flowering. Mark the daffodils and when they are dyin back dig up the bulbs and replant to the correct depth.
  • Very dry soil can cause blindness. It's a good idea if planting into dry soil to mulch the area to retain moisture and ameliorate the dryness. 
  • Planting too late daffodils can be a cause of no flowers. Daffodils need to be in the soil and planted by mid-September.
  • Mature clumps of daffodils can get overcrowded in which case lift and divide and replant. The time to lift is as the bulbs come into leaf and replant immediately. 
  • Defoliation and knotting can cause a problem. It maybe tempting to make the tired foliage look more attractive but removing it too early inhibits the take up of nutrients by the leaves. It is important to  let the foliage die down naturally for at least 6 weeks post flowering 
  • If all else fails, feeding can assist in which case any suitable applied regularly after the blooms have faded.

Daffodils are fully hardy

That daffodils suffer in the cold weather and are buried in snow and frost, does not affect the bulb flowering. Daffodils are 100% fully hardy and so if your daffodils are not flowering, you can be sure the weather is not the cause.

Daffodils in the snow

No flowers on Tulips

It isn't easy to get Tulips to flower the following year,  and in this respect they are different to daffodils. Tulips should be treated as annuals but here are some tips to get Tulips to flower.


  • The planting depth is very relevant to Tulips which are more likely to come back the following year if planted more deeply. It is also not ideal to leave Tulips in containers year after year unless a deep container.
  • If planted too early Tulips may succumb to disease and, unlike Daffodils, Tulips should not be planted until late  October or early November.
  • If you definitely want Tulips to return the following year, plant Darwin Hybrids which are more likely to will return than, say, the Parrots varieties. The page about tulip varieties has further information about perennial tulips.
  • Mice and squirrels love them. I have planted an entire container full of Tulips to find only a few stragglers bloomed and it was the pesky mice.
  • Tulips come from the part of the world with hot dry summers and cold winters but those conditions are not prevalent in the UK hence it simply isn't easy to get Tulips to flower year after year. I treat them as annuals, because even if they do come back it is not usually with the same flourish as the first year's flowering.
  • Plant in an area of good drainage and after flowering take of the flower head and allow the foliage to die back naturally.

No flowers on Snowdrops

As a woodland plant, the main cause of snowdrop failure is dry conditions. Snowdrops are best in partial shade and benefit from a good leaf mulch to replicate their natural conditons.

In this image, take at Rode Hall, a garden known for its snowdrop display, the woodland area is a mass of snowdrops.  Growing in a woodland area will ensure a shade canopy in the spring and summer to prevent the bulbs from drying out.

Snowdrops in woodland setting

Did you think your Crocus flowers lacked lustre? Instead of open flowers, did they look more like the image on the right?

I took this picture of my own Crocus flowers in February 2024. We now know February 2024 to be the wettest on record, and therefore the most overcast, grey and with the least sun.

Crocus bulbs open their flowers in response to sun. Technically called nyctinasty , read more about this on my blog page and why it is critical to plant Crocus in a sunny spot,

Poor display from Crocus?

Crocus flowers closed up due to lack of sunlight

For most other bulbs, such as Crocus and Hyacinth a failure for the bulb to appear at all will be caused by predators such as mice and squirrels. A failure to flower is most likely to be planting depth, often planted too shallow. Advice on how to plant spring bulbs

Last updated 08.10.2022