Oh no! My Spring Bulbs are Flowering, and it’s Starting to Snow!

By Mary-Jane Pilgrim, Master Gardener

Spring bulbs are hardy plants that are adapted to survive even in cold and unpredictable weather conditions. While a late frost or spring snow may cause damage to the leaves and flowers of spring bulbs, it is unlikely to kill them altogether.

One of the main reasons why spring bulbs can survive a late frost or spring snow is their ability to go dormant during periods of extreme cold or drought. During dormancy, the bulbs store energy and nutrients in their underground structures, allowing them to survive until conditions improve.

Spring bulbs have a unique growth habit that enables them to emerge from the soil before the last frost date. They grow and develop quickly, taking advantage of the early spring sun and warmth to build up their energy reserves. By the time a late frost or spring snow arrives, most of the growth and development has already taken place, minimizing the impact of the cold on the plant. You may lose any blooms at the time of the adverse weather, but new blooms will likely wait until the weather changes again, and it will!

Snowdrops, hyacinths and some daffodils seem to be particularly resistant to cold, wet spring precipitation. Tulips and lilies are a little more prone to damage once they’ve formed buds or blooms. If a hard freeze or extended cold period is in the forecast, it may be wise to cover budding or flowering tulips and lilies to ensure that you get to enjoy their blooms this year. Make sure that you uncover them if daytime temps rise above freezing. If they’re not budding or blooming, no covering is necessary as the foliage is quite robust.

When planting spring bulbs in the fall, make sure that they are planted deep enough in the soil to avoid the worst effects of a late frost or spring snow. This means that even if the surface of the soil is frozen or covered in snow, the bulbs remain insulated and protected underground.

If frost damage does occur, don’t cut off the leaves as bulbs need even damaged foliage to feed the bulb for next year’s blooms!

In conclusion, while a late frost or spring snow may cause some damage to spring bulbs, they are unlikely to be killed off completely. These hardy plants have developed a range of adaptations to cope with the unpredictable and often harsh conditions of spring, allowing them to survive and thrive year after year.

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