Old Bulbs Not Blooming

Q: This past February we purchased four hundred bulbs that were on sale at a big box store. They were stored in two open cardboard boxes in our living room and planted in early April. Only half of the Dutch iris bulbs sprouted, but no blooms. None of the one hundred and sixty-five crocosmia bulbs sprouted. All thirty rain lily bulbs sprouted and there were four blooms. What do you think will happen next year? 

A: My local home store begins selling fall bulbs each year in late August. If the bulbs you bought in February had been at your store for five months, all sorts of bad things could have happened to them. They could have dried out or been heated beyond the point they were able to sprout. They might’ve been exposed to pesticides. Once they were purchased, they should’ve been kept at temperatures below 50 degrees, not in the dry heat of your living room. My prediction is that you’ll get a few iris flowers next year, but not many. The crocosmia bulbs are dead. Rain lilies are pretty tough and they might all survive and bloom next year. We all become better gardeners by making mistakes. You are well on your way to becoming a better gardener!

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