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Mild weather pushes up the bulbs
Yard & Garden
By B. Rosie Lerner
Consumer Horticulturist, Purdue Extension

It’s not unusual for Indiana weather to have trouble deciding what season it is. Recent warm spells have had many gardeners wondering what to do about bulbs - and, perhaps, a few other plants that are poking their foliage through the soil.

As I write this article, temperatures started out in the 50s and are expected to drop to the upper 20s by tonight! Just what should gardeners do about daffodils, dianthus and daylilies poking out of the ground?

The good news is that no action is really required. Although we’re more used to seeing this happen later in winter during a February warm spell, this certainly isn’t the first time that it has happened in January. The plants will survive just fine, though they may look a little worse for wear.

The longer the mild weather stays around, the more potential there is for damage when the weather returns to normal winter. Foliage that has popped up will be killed back, but the bulbs and storage roots of other perennials should remain undamaged underground. As the plants completely push out in spring, the damaged foliage will appear brown, giving plants a raggedy appearance. But the plants themselves should be fine.

I wouldn’t expect flower buds to be affected much at this early stage of development. But, of course, there is plenty more winter and opportunity for more fluctuating temperatures yet to come. There isn’t much we can do about the weather but sit back and wait to see what Mother Nature has in store for us!

Published in the January 25, 2006 issue of Farm World.