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If your tulips and daffodils didn't bloom, try some bulb forensics to find out why

A small terra cotta pot rests inside a larger pot. Both hold dark brown soil and several brown, garlic-shaped flowering bulbs with green shoots.
Tulip and daffodil bulbs might suffer from poor drainage or not enough nutrients in the soil. That can mean the bulbs won't flower in spring.

Sometimes when flowering bulbs like daffodils and tulips don't bloom, the answer is underground. By digging up the bulbs and noting their characteristics, you can solve the problem for next year.

Blooming daffodils and tulips have shown their glorious colors this spring.

After the blooms fade, there are some simple ways to ensure more blooms next spring.

Simply let the flower petals drop and dead head the plants. Doing so will send more energy into the roots, and the bulbs will come back stronger next year.

But what to do if your tulips and daffodils didn't bloom? Engage in some investigation after the foliage starts to yellow.

When the leaves on the flowers have yellowed, this is the time to dig up the bulbs.

Note the bulbs' characteristics. If they are soft and squishy, it could mean the soil is not well-drained and the bulbs have rotted in the soil.

Bulbs that produce smaller clusters of bulbs off the main one are trying to reproduce. Doing so takes energy away from the main bulb, resulting in no flowers.

Remedy this by breaking the little bulbs off, and placing them in a nursery bed. In three or four years, those bulbs should grow bigger and flower.

If the main bulbs are small, the issue could be poor nutrition or inadequate sunlight. Try moving the bulbs to a sunnier spot, then in the fall, add some fertilizer.

The flowering bulbs will go dormant this summer. Keep track of where you planted them by placing a marker and in the fall, sprinkle some fertilizer onto the soil.

That boost of nutrients should be enough to help them get through the winter and then begin growing next spring, producing more beautiful flower colors.

Q: We did not get to pruning our community garden grape vines earlier this spring. We've planted table grape varieties like Concord and Somerset. Would doing any pruning other than shoot-thinning be damaging at this stage of the season? - Erin, in Charlotte

A: As the grapes are just beginning to leaf out now, pruning the vines won't be damaging.

And perhaps on the Somerset varieties, clusters of grapes are already forming. You don't want to remove those and that can make it harder to prune.

Still, aim to have just two to four arms or branches going off each main one and a couple branches off those. Everything else should be removed.

Pruning now before they really get going will help with the production and your grape vines won't turn into a big tangle of vines.

Q: I'm trying the no-dig gardening method recommended last year on the show. I also recently learned about the importance of the soil test. I collected a soil sample and had it tested. It came back classified as, "muck." - Katherine, via email

A: Muck soil is actually what is often found in Canada. Despite its name, which might not sound good muck soil is very good soil for growing things, as it is really high organic matter.

However, you can have too much of a good thing. So, if you have high organic matter soil already, you'd really don't want to add more organic matter.

Instead, try adding thin layers over the top of the organic material, like chopped leaves or grass clippings. Then add compost and topsoil and plant directly into that.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send us your toughest conundrums and join the fun. Submit your written question via email, or better yet, leave a voicemail with your gardening question so we can use your voice on the air! Call Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Listen to All Things Gardening Sunday mornings at 9:35 a.m., and subscribe to the podcast to listen any time.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.