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PeteCO
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Posted: 4/30/2005 3:15:09 AM
Due to the recent warm weather we have had lately here in CO, my wife's tulips and other perennials (no idea what they are) have bloomed. She planted over 300 bulbs last fall. Now it has been below freezing for 3 days. Will this kill off the flowers for this year, or will they recover when warmer weather resumes? I kind of feel bad for her, the back yard looked great but now we have six inches of snow.
PeteCO
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Posted: 4/30/2005 2:49:38 PM
bumpity
RomaRana
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Posted: 4/30/2005 3:08:40 PM
I would have dumped some straw over them before the snow.
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Posted: 4/30/2005 3:11:56 PM
Question:
The weather was warm so early this spring that my spring flowering bulbs emerged earlier than usual. They were up several inches and now we are back in the throes of winter. Should I protect them in any way? Will they be ok? Will they be ok next year?
Minnesota Master Gardeners say:

When cold weather returns, as it has, bulbs naturally stop growing. They may or may not be ok, that will depend on the temperatures and the duration of the cold snap. It is the flower buds that are most at risk, and may potentially be damaged if temperatures drop below 26 degrees F. You have to weigh your options in this situation. Are the bulbs a less hardy species or unusually expensive and worth the effort to cover? Is it worth the risk of breaking off plants with heavy covers? Info-U has a script on this topic. Here it is: Spring Bulbs and Hard Frosts In some years, freezing temperatures may damage spring bulbs such as tulips, crocus and daffodils that emerge early in the season. Bulbs located near a foundation, especially on the south or west side of a building, or on a south facing slope, are most susceptible to early emergence and, therefore, freezing damage. The soil on these sites can heat up in very early spring, causing leaves and flower buds to emerge too soon. If air temperatures then drop into the 26-28 degree range, the leaves or buds may be damaged or killed.

To prevent freezing damage to spring bulbs, avoid planting your bulbs against foundations or on south-facing exposures if possible. Existing plantings on susceptible sites should be mulched in the fall after the ground has frozen. A 6-inch layer of straw or shredded leaves makes a fine winter mulch.

To protect an unmulched planting during freezing weather in early spring, place a layer of polyester row cover material or a sheet or light blanket over the emerging bulbs at night. Polyester row cover material may be left in place for extended periods, while a sheet or blanket should be removed each morning once temperatures have risen above the freezing point.

Finally, if cold weather is forecast when the flower buds are about to open, consider cutting them for indoor enjoyment.

For beds that are repeatedly warming too early each spring and getting plants off to a risky early start, a thick mulch of pine needles, straw or oak leaves in the fall is your best insurance. If you decide to use a light blanket to cover bulbs, be sure to support it with stakes or the like, to reduce the risk of plant breakage. Don't use covers if snow is expected, as it will weigh them down.

When all is said and done, you may not get flowers this season, or flower life may be shortened by freezing. If foliage survives, the bulbs should be able to photosynthesize for the rest of the spring and successfully go dormant for next year. If plants totally die to the ground due to freezing temperatures (rare occurrence for tulips, daffodils or crocus), don't expect your bulbs to show up next spring. If they do manage to come back another year after freezing the previous spring, don't expect good flowering.