Do you need to protect daffodils from the snow? How about from ice, cold or frost?
I think these pictures are worth a thousand words! We had a surprise little snow squall last night here in south central Virginia. Although not much is blooming in my garden, the crocus, snow drops and daffodils are already awake and blooming. There’s nothing I love quite so much as daffodils, and I have them planted throughout the orchard as well as in my flower garden. The daffodil above is in my flower garden, the perennial garden right next to the driveway.
When snow threatens, your first instinct as a gardener may be to run outside and cover up your plants. That’s a good instinct with tender annuals, vegetable plants and perennials. A late frost in the spring can kill heat-loving vegetables planted after your frost-free date. Although the frost-free date is fairly reliable, nature isn’t always predictable, and it can still mean a late frost. Tender perennials, annuals, and herb plants all need to be covered with newspaper, mulch of fabric — never plastic — in the event of a frost.
But what about daffodils? Do daffodils need protect from the snow? How about their springtime friends: crocus, tulips, snowdrops, hyacinth and myriad other spring blooming bulbs?
Do Daffodils Need Protection from Snow?
The short answer is no. Most spring-blooming flowers are very resilient and hardy. They have to be. Anything that blooms in the spring may be subjected to snow, cold and wide swings in temperature. Throughout the ages, natural selection took care of the weaker plants so that only the stronger ones survived and passed along their genes. The flower bulbs in your garden today descended from strong, hardy plants, and can withstand cold better than you think.
Of course, it’s better that they have some insulation. Believe it or not, snow acts as insulation, so I wasn’t too worried about my daffodils. A little snow with a touch of ice crystals on top won’t hurt them. If the snow was prolonged, or the temperatures really dropped into the lower 20s, I’d probably mulch or cover the plants with leaves.
Browning from Cold
Daffodils that are already blooming and are hit with cold, frost, ice or very cold temperatures may lose their flowers. The tips of the leaves may turn brown. The flowers may droop, wilt or turn brown. This does not harm the plant but does end the flowering abruptly for the plant.
If You Can’t Cover the Flowers…
If you can’t cover the flowers and it’s going to get really cold, your best bet is to snap the flowers off at the stem and bring them inside to enjoy. Remember that daffodil sap will harm other flowers in the same vase, so don’t mix a daffodils with other flowers. Enjoy a bouquet by itself and keep that vase especially for your daffodils.
The next day, the green leaves may look a bit frost-nipped, but the plant will be fine. The bulb, where next year’s flower is made, sleeps underneath the soil, and it won’t be harmed by the cold.
I hope that this helped. Drop me a note with your spring bulb questions in the comments section!