Planting Tulips In The Fall & Crape Myrtle Didn’t Bloom

Question:

Why are Tulips and Daffodils planted in the fall instead of the spring?

Answer:

  • Tulips, Daffodils, and Narcissus, along with Hyacinths, Dutch Iris, and the other spring-flowering bulbs, require a period of cold temperatures to spark the flowering process, So they're planted in the late fall or early winter months after the final heat spell of the year.
  • I think of the spring bulbs as a procrastinator delight, as they are purchased now while the selection is the best and you wait to plant. They're stored in a dry area until you're ready. Besides triggering flowering, a minimum of six weeks of cold is needed to form strong roots. This can't occur as the days are getting longer and the soil temperature is warming up with the beginning of Day Light Saving Time.
  • In addition, with our mild winters, tulips require more cold than other bulbs; hence they're often refrigerated for six weeks before planting. Tulip and Daffodils planted in January or February get a reduced amount of cold to bloom, but the stem length is shortened. Hence, they aren't as majestic as they should be. This is especially true with those early seasons blooming varieties.
  • The spring-flowering bulbs are tough and will take whatever Mother Nature dishes out. It's not necessary to protect the early sprouting varieties from freezing temperatures. A short freeze will not damage the young shoots and or buds, although it may "burn" any already open flowers. Many varieties, such as snowdrops, crocuses, and early rock garden narcissi, are supposed to come up in the very early spring, even in those areas where snow is present. Mother Nature has provided them with the means to survive.
  • And finally, when purchasing bulbs, size matters.

Question:

My Crape Myrtle isn't blooming. Several years ago, my son-in-law pruned it. Since then, I haven't seen a bud. The branches are long, leggy, and the leaves are slightly brown at the tips. It gets part sun, and it's watered every morning for about ten minutes. What must I do to get flowers next year, as it's too late for any blooms now?

Answer:

  • The blooming cycle of Crape Myrtles is not influenced by pruning nor cold winter temperatures. Crape Myrtles blooms only on the terminal tips of the new growth; hence, they must produce new growth every year.
  • The lack of flowers indicates your tree isn't growing. Fertilization is the answer to your question. Next February, prune the leggy branches back and fertilize with a balanced fertilizer such as 16-16-16 to encourage new growth. I'd apply a half-pound of fertilizer per inch of the trunk diameter measured two feet off the ground and spread it evenly around the drip line. In May/June, a follow-up application is made.
  • In addition, you're keeping the Crape Myrtle too wet by watering too frequently. This is an established plant that you're watering like it's newly planted, so it's staying wetter than it needs to be. Crape Myrtles will tolerate dry conditions. A good watering once every seven to ten days should be sufficient.