Question of the Week – Number 1: January 3, 2019

“Neil, some of my bulbs’ leaves are already a couple of inches out of the ground. Do I need to worry? Is there anything I should do to protect them?”

The Carlton daffodils in the Sperry landscape are well on their way. They’ll be in bloom in just 7 or 8 weeks, and we’ll be ready to see them! (Photo from this week.)

That’s pretty much a non-issue. We’ve had several warm spells, and they’ve taken it upon themselves to start growing. This week’s cold precipitation may have caught them a little off guard, but it won’t hurt them at all. They’ll pick right back up again where they left off once it warms up again. Foliage of daffodils, tulips and other spring bulbs is quite tolerant of cold.

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The only times I worry are…
(1) If temperatures are going to drop into the teens, at which point I’ll pile up fallen tree leaves over the bulbs’ foliage. The leaves give them a thermal blanket that is usually enough protection for anywhere in Texas (assuming they don’t blow off).

And (2), if the bulbs start producing their buds, and especially if the buds are showing color, I will use frost cloth to drape over them, also as a thermal blanket. I use stakes to keep the frost cloth from weighting the flowering stems down.

Otherwise, no big deal. Bring on the cold!

It’s not just daffodils and spring bulbs, either. You probably know spider lilies that bloom in late summer/early fall. And good gardeners remember that their leaves emerge after they bloom, persist all winter and well into late spring. Winter certainly doesn’t bother them, at least not in most of Texas! Photo from this week in the Sperry home gardens.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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