“My bulbs are already coming up! What should I do?” We’ve been hearing that from a lot of customers recently.
The good news is that most plants are tougher than you might think, and they’ve been evolving to cope with erratic weather for millennia.
Most fall-planted bulbs, for example, require a certain number of hours below 40 degrees or so in order to produce enough gibberellic acid to allow the leaves and flower stems to lengthen normally – which means most foliage won’t emerge very far above ground this early. And most bulb foliage and even flowers can take freezing in stride. When temperatures drop below 15 degrees or so, any foliage that’s above ground may be killed, but whatever is still underground will be unharmed and continue growing normally in the spring.
On the other hand, there’s not much you can do to protect your plants from the weather.
You could scatter a layer of loose straw, hay, or evergreen branches over any foliage that has emerged. This will help protect it from the drying effects of winter sun and wind, and prevent the ground from repeatedly freezing and thawing which can damage roots.
You can find other helpful information in the Weather and Hardiness section of our Newsletter Archives, or check out “How Will This Mild Weather Affect Our Plants” at Larry Hodgson’s Laidback Gardener blog.
Other than that, we suggest you just relax, accept that Nature is a lot more powerful than we are, have faith in the resiliency of plants – and maybe make a New Year’s resolution to do something more this year to be good to the Earth.