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Q.my newly planted bulbs and perennials are either stunted or not growing

posskat added on May 22, 2011 | Answered

Hubby built a new planter last year. I lined it w/cardboard, wet it, filled with 1/2 homemade compost, 1/4 sand, 1/4 very old manure from feed lot. I splurged and planted TONS of cool perennials and bulbs. This spring only a handful of crocus and tulips appeared and quit growing. The bulbs (I dug up) seemed very plump, but had very short or no roots. Some were slightly moldy. Only 4 other plants are even showing up, and I am heartsick. Someone suggested nematodes, someone else said the soil was too rich. . . I am at a loss; I’ve had tremendous success in the past. The rest of my garden’s bulbs are all finished flowering now, but the new planter box had come to a screaming halt, with no new growth (other than the 4 plants about 4″ now). Two tulips have a partially opened flower at ground level. I put in some extra petunias and pansies and they are thriving. What happened to my plants? Do you think I can dig up the bulbs and try them next year? Or is my new expensive creation toast? Sorry for the manuscript, but thanks for any help.

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on May 26, 2011

I would suspect there is too much nitrogen in the soil, likely from the manure. Plus, if the manure had not composted enough, it may have also had too hot of nitrogen, which burned the plants. Too much nitrogen will result in poor blooming and sparse roots.

Add some bone meal to the soil to add in phosphorous and this will help to balance the nutrients back out.

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Answered on May 26, 2011

thank you. would it be too late to save any of these bulbs? if so, would i dig them up and replant or simply add the bone meat and phosphorus?

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