Dealing with Common Bulb Problems

by April Reinhardt
(last updated March 9, 2020)

Some of the best-loved flowers grow from bulbs, and their popularity is attributed to the fact that they are perennials—meaning, they grow year after year, without the need for more planting. Some of the better-known varieties of flower bulbs are tulips, lilies, hyacinths, iris, crocus, and daffodils, to name just a few.

A flower bulb is likened to a mini greenhouse in that it contains energy and food storage for dormant plants. An onion is a bulb, and if you've ever left an onion inside of a bag in a dark closet for a great deal of time, then you know that it will eventually sprout a shoot from one end, and its roots will grow from the other. The same type of growth happens with flower bulbs. Planted in the dormant season of fall, root-side down, the flower bulb sprouts during the growing season either in early spring, mid-spring, or summer, depending upon the variety of bulb.

While most gardeners agree that planting and growing flowers from bulbs is quite easy, especially given the fact that they are mostly low maintenance, there are some common problems associated with flowering bulbs. Here is a list of the most common bulb problems and how to deal with them:

  • Earwigs eat decaying organic matter, and infestations can destroy flower bulbs. Since it will be impossible to entirely rid your flower garden of decaying matter, the second choice is to feed the earwigs elsewhere, so they won't bother your bulbs. Lay down a deep layer of permanent organic mulch well below your bulbs, and the earwigs will stay there. You can also mix a solution of Ivory liquid soap and water and spray your bulbs. Earwigs don't like the bitter taste of soap, and will leave your bulbs alone.
  • Squirrels eat flower bulbs and sometimes become a nuisance in flower gardens. As with earwigs, you can feed the squirrels elsewhere and they may leave your bulbs alone. Or, at your local home-improvement store you can purchase a specially formulated product to keep squirrels out of your garden. You can also install mesh screens over your bulbs to stop squirrels and other varmints from digging your bulbs.
  • Thrips are slender, winged insects that feed on flower bulbs by puncturing them and sucking out the contents. As with earwigs, you may rid your garden of thrips by spraying a soap solution and you may also place sticky traps around your garden. Remove the larvae and hiding places, and then dust your plants with insecticide to rid your flower garden of thrips.

Bulbs that refuse to bloom are caused by only one reason: There is not enough energy stored within the bulb to produce a bloom. When you choose bulbs from bins, make sure that they are healthy. Novice gardeners tend to water their bulbs too much, resulting in rot. A rotting bulb will not produce leaves and, instead, decays into the ground.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


Dealing with Motion Sickness

Some over-the-counter antihistamines can block the chemical signs of motion sickness, but knowing what triggers motion ...

Discover More

Taking Care of Tulips

Of all flowers, bulb flowers are the easiest to care for, and especially tulips. Remember to plant them in a sunny ...

Discover More

Growing Grass from Seed

The most important thing to remember when trying to grow grass from seed is to plant at the right time of year for the ...

Discover More
More Gardening Tips

Taking Care of Hydrangea

Hydrangeas are a perfect addition to any garden. Not only are these flowers beautiful, they are also extremely easy to ...

Discover More

Full-sun Perennials

Full sun perennials are a great investment for any gardener. Find out how easy it is to plant a full sun perennial garden.

Discover More

Darling Daffodils

Originating from the woodlands of Europe, daffodils are from the Narcissus family and are one of the most easily-grown ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured gardening tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one less than 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured gardening tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)