Thursday, February 11, 2016

Alternating winter temperatures


If you are one of the fortunate ones that live in a more southern winter climate, like my brother and sister-in-law in Guelph, Ontario, then you may be experiencing some unusual winter temperatures. Just the other day when I was talking with him he mentioned  that he and his youngest son were going to play a game of badminton and that it was 14 degrees Celsius there.  I thought oh how lucky for them as we were just newly diagnosed with another heavy dose of snow!

Have you also been one of the fortunate ones that experienced weather such as they have? If so, it may have caused some of the same issues that this early growth from your garden that you would be concerned about, like he was when he called me. These odd fluctuating temperatures can indeed cause your plants some stress for sure, especially if they were planted too shallow or by chance heaved with changing temperatures.  Plants may have started to show signs of growth exposing just the tips and even been fully pushed out of the ground.

 No need to worry as there is an easy fix to this problem. These bulbs are just reacting to the weather around them and this is out of your control. If the warm weather stays, foliage may yellow and die back some but the bulb will return back to its dormancy period. This is completely normal and will happen from time to time. When you come to think about it, years ago when plants, similar to these, grew in the wild such as those "lovely ditch growing tiger lilies" they would have and still survive during the unusual winters.

You may have heard that having a mild spell and then a very cold spell will damage the bulb and it may not even grow the following season. This could be true, however if you take a walk around your yard on these mild days, before playing or after, you can prevent this from happening.  If this only happens a few times you can rest easy and still enjoy those warm spring-like days. 
As I mentioned, it's an easy fix and these little guys are more resilient than you think. You can use a heavy winter mulch of straw, leaves, evergreen boughs or even pile any extra mulch existing on your beds to help prevent them from coming up further and will protect them from frost damage. 

Once the weather gets colder again, as it always does...they will slow down in growth. If you do notice later on in the spring that they don't flower then that may have been the result of damage to your flower buds.  Your bulbs may still bloom even though the flower buds were damaged, but will occur later in the season or possibly not until next spring. This is the result of shallow planting, heaving, lack of proper mulch protection or temperatures fluctuating severely before bloom time.
You can ease your mind next year by applying a winter mulch in the fall just before the ground freezes.  You can use many different coverings as I mentioned earlier such as regular mulch, straw or even thick boughs from left over Christmas trees.  By doing this it will ensure your bulbs and any other perennials that you feel may surface in early spring are properly protected especially southern exposure plants that are close to building foundations. You can remove these extra layers once consistent spring weather arrives.

Once I had responded to my brother's inquiry, he emailed me back with some photos that I used to assist with in posting this blog.  I had copied his exact words after he had returned back outdoors on the beautiful day he was blessed with to take care of his plants.  

"That was pretty easy to get enough mulch to cover them, we had laid it on pretty thick. 
Thanks for the advice! Playing badminton in February...bizarre."

It is so neat how he has taken such an interest in growing these bulbs and I really can't blame him as I feel everyone should have at least a few of these early spring garden arrivals of beautiful colour every year.  Bring on the Spring!  You can now check out our newest spring line of bulbs, perennials, trees and shrubs by clicking the following link veseys spring bulbs.



  1. Thanks again for the advice Heidi, I feel like they are safe for now, especially given that tomorrow evening is predicted to be -22 C. A very up and down winter here!

  2. Thanks for your comment. These alternating temps can be a bit of a problem especially for us up here in the northern and even some southern climates will experience this from time to time. If you have any other comments to send or questions, please feel free to do so at any time.