Mild winter brings up bulbs

Posted on Mar 01 2017 in Outdoors

By Rosie Lerner

Daffodils come up during mild weather. Photo by Rosie Lerner, Purdue Extension

It’s not unusual for Indiana weather to have trouble deciding what season it is. Recent warm spells have had many gardeners wondering what to do about bulbs, and perhaps a few plants that are poking their foliage through the soil. Just what should gardeners do about daffodils, dianthus and daylilies poking out of the ground?

The good news is that no action is required. We’re used to seeing this happen in late winter during a February warm spell. The plants will survive just fine.

The longer the mild weather stays around, the more potential there is for damage when below-freezing temperatures return. Foliage that has popped up may be killed back, but the bulbs and

Freeze injury to daylily foliage. Photo by Rosie Lerner.

storage roots should remain undamaged underground. As the plants completely push out in spring, damaged foliage will appear brown, giving plants a raggedy appearance. But the plants themselves will survive.

Flower buds on spring-flowering trees and shrubs are also starting to plump up, but should be fine so far. As buds progress in their development, they become more susceptible to freeze damage. And, spring is still weeks away, leaving plenty of opportunity for fluctuating temperatures.

There isn’t much we can do about the weather except to sit back and wait to see what Mother Nature has in store for us!

Rosie Lerner is the Purdue Extension consumer horticulturist and a consumer of Tipmont REMC. Have a question about gardening? Use the form to send it to us. Or, questions about gardening issues may be sent to: “Ask Rosie,” Electric Consumer, P.O. Box 24517, Indianapolis, IN 46224, or