Preparing Heirloom Bulbs for the Artic Blast

Early Spring “Bulb Season” is one of my favorite seasons. Many varieties of Daffodils and Paperwhites are just about to open up, and the Hyacinths, Crocus and Starflowers are getting ready to set the garden canvas alive with color. It’s truly magical. Every day, there is something new and exciting in the garden. All this wonderful garden galore is happening just in time for the not-so-wonderful upcoming Artic Blast that will hit Texas in a few days. Everything in bloom will be stunted and frozen, as it gets knocked to the the ground.

As I write, I’m looking out the windows at a very grey, cold and crisp landscape. The Texas weather has already begun to change, which it usually does frequently throughout the day . My garden playtime quickly changed from peacefully surveying to frantically mulching, in hopes of saving some blooms. Heirloom Bulbs bloom just once a year, so a freeze is detrimental. Here are a few pro-active things you can do to protect your beautiful Heirloom Bulbs.

Most Heirloom Bulbs are freeze hardy, as long as they are in the ground. I’ve lost many bulbs because I forget to bring the potted plants with bulbs inside. The freeze is harsher with a Terracotta Pot. Bulbs are best in the ground, but if you do plant with Terracotta Pots, bring them inside.

The Dwarf Crinum is the only bulb I have that is actually at risk of bulb-death during a hard freeze. Most bulbs will simply lose the bloom….this Crinum will actually freeze to death. I lost all but 4 bulbs about 10 years ago. I learned my lesson and they are now under-planted comfortably and will be heavily mulched.

If you currently have blooms, it’s best to just pick the flowers and share the love with your neighbors. Covering the bulb bloom will not help….the bloom will get crushed and the delicate stems will snap. Large boxes covering the entire clump help, but don’t let any cloth touch the bloom itself. I have tried the covering game in the past, and it never worked for me. I am a naturalist, and I simply let nature take it’s course……then cry in my Wheaties over breakfast. 🙂

Today, I plan to spend as much time as I can in the gardens. I will make sure there are no bulbs that have gone rogue due to chicken-scratching. I will mulch the tender crinum bulbs, cut my Daffodil blooms and feed the roses a nice tonic of cow manure, compost and liquid seaweed. Yum…..

Happy Winter Gardening, my friends!