What Happens When a Flower Bulb Gets Tramped On?

Bulbs

A plant or flower bulb, which is an underground bud that is surrounded by a thick stem and fleshy scales or leaf bases, produces above-ground foliage or flowers that are appreciated by gardeners. The daffodil and onion are prime examples of bulbs. However, "bulb" or "bulbous" can commonly include any swollen underground stem or root, such as a corm (e.g. Crocus), or rhizome (e.g. Iris). Scaly tubers (e.g. Dahlia) can also be grouped into the general term of "bulb", too.

Damage to Bulbs and their Foliage

Regardless, the bulb is the ever-living part of the plant. Certain plants endure an annual dormancy during winter or seasonal drought, withering away its foliage but resting as the bulb awaits the change to again re-sprout leaves and flowers above ground. Trampling may or may not have a negative effect on a flower bulb. Inadvertent stepping on bulbs or leaves may cause minimal damage, whereas as a forceful stomp or trampling of the plant can cause detrimental harm. Bulbs that are cracked, split or smashed likely will die from either drying out, rotting in wet soil, or succumbing to a plant disease. If the bulb is in the ground, the soil will help lessen the force of the trampling, however more delicate plant parts such as the stem may be broken.

Flower bulbs that have extended foliage and flowers above ground have a slightly better chance of overall plant survival, although the regrowth of leaves may take time, and the flowers may not occur. For example, emerging leaves and flower buds of tulips or amaryllis are a one-time event. If trampling snaps off the flower stem, it is not likely the bulb will have enough energy to rejuvenate and create another flower stalk. As long as some foliage remains, the leaves will produce food to nourish the underground bulb so that it can re-sprout and flower the next growing season. When a flower bulb or plant is damaged, do not immediately remove the foliage. Allow 2 to 7 days to pass to monitor the foliage. Leaves that yellow and dry are clearly severed from the bulb, but matted down or semi-broken stems and leaves can still be attached to the bulb and remain green, nourishing the bulb for next year. Bulbs that are robbed of green foliage will slowly die underground as they will have to use all remaining food stored to survive; with leaves not supplying food, the bulb will degrade.

Keywords: broken flowers, damaged bulbs, trampled flowers

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for The Public Garden, Docent Educator, numerous non-profit newsletters and for Learn2Grow.com's comprehensive plant database. He holds a Master's degree in Public Horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne's Burnley College.