The other day, a gardener commented that she applied shredded bark mulch a few weeks ago on her snowdrops and daffodils because the leaves had broken ground.
She was worried that the very cold weather we’ve had this winter might damage the early blooming spring bulbs.
Despite the instinct to cover these plants, it’s really better not too. In fact, applying mulch this time of year may actually force the bulbs to grow more because shredded bark warms the soil.
Fortunately, the snow pack we’ve had has been a great plant insulator. Without the snow, perennials, in particular, are more susceptible for damage to roots and base of the plant when the temperatures hover in the single digits and teens for days.
The concern about freezing temperatures and spring bulbs comes later in the season when daffodils, tulips and hyacinths are above ground, either in full bloom or budded up ready for their show.
The buds and the flowers may be damaged by a hard freeze. The tighter the bud the less likely the damaged. However, if you wish to protect blooming or nearly blooming bulbs, cover them at night with a cloth, such as a sheet, paper bags, inverted pots or newspaper tents. Plastic sheeting is not recommended because it holds moisture underneath, which can freeze and damage plants it touches. Remove the covering during the day.