Protect blooming bulbs from heavy snow.

It’s disheartening when weather turns wintry after spring bulbs have started to bloom. But there’s no need to lose these blossoms under heavy wet snow when just a few easy steps will protect blooming bulbs.

Narcissus 'Tete-a-Tete' blooming in late winter in zone 6 Connecticut.

Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ blooming in late winter in zone 6 Connecticut.

Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant' blooming in late-winter in zone 6 Connecticut.

Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’ blooming in late-winter in zone 6 Connecticut.

Heavy wet snow would weigh down blooming stalks and destroy the petals of early-bloomers like these narcissi and crocus.

It’s just depressing to look out at once-beautiful flowers that have been beaten down by late snow.

Avoid this by spending a few minutes of your pre-snow time to place an overturned apple basket, or large plastic pot, over each set of blooms.

An overturned basket protects blooming bulbs from heavy snow.

An overturned basket protects blooming bulbs from heavy snow.

Once the basket is in position, sink two or three short posts or rods through openings in the basket and into the ground. This secures the cover from blowing winds.

A good sized flat rock will also work to keep the basket, or plastic pot, from blowing over. This trick also works to prolong blooming bulbs from heavy rains.

Once the storm passes remove your cover of choice and go on enjoying your blooms.

You can pick narcissi with buds close to opening to enjoy indoors during the storm, but if you don’t pick them they should be fine. After the storm passes you can pick any broken bud stems to enjoy indoors.

Don’t fret over newly emerging foliage of hardy perennials such as iris and daylilies. The tips of their foliage may brown during late freezes, but the plants will do fine under a blanket of snow.

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Crocus in bloom

Crocus in bloom signals the start of the growing season in my zone 6 gardens in Connecticut. Planted as bulbs during autumn and early winter before the ground freezes, they pop out of the ground as the soil begins to warm each spring.

Though often considered an easy bulb to grow, gardeners with voles may find their crocus plantings devoured as winter food. Voles tunnel under ground and remain active throughout the winter season. Finding a group of crocus bulbs must be exciting for hungry voles. The bulbs not eaten are often carried to other sections of their tunnel system, I suspect, for future meals.

Such activity is evident in my gardens. Years back I had two large groupings of lavender-hued crocus planted on either side of steps leading to my front porch … an area that receives lots of late winter sunshine. They bloomed beautifully, year after year, until found by voles. It was heartbreaking to learn the entire planting had become winter fodder.

In my reading of various garden blogs, articles, and catalogs I learned that Crocus tommasinianus varieties, commonly called tommies, are vole-resistant. The variety Ruby Giant is featured below.

Crocus tommasinianus Ruby Giant

Crocus tommasinianus Ruby Giant

Now tommies are the only type of crocus I plant. Voles leave them alone, so I can safely expect their repeat bloom year after year. I love how they pair with the gold-tipped foliage of the still small arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Filip’s Magic Moment’) planted inside my back yard fence.

Crocus tommasinianus Ruby Giant in front of a  young Thuja occidentalis 'Filip's Magic Moment'.

Crocus tommasinianus Ruby Giant in front of a young Thuja occidentalis ‘Filip’s Magic Moment’.

The non-tommie crocus bulbs originally planted more than a decade ago have not completely disappeared though. They pop up here and there in spots where voles must had dropped or deposited bulbs while traveling through underground tunnels. I smile when I see these ‘transplanted’ crocus in bloom … reminded that I am not the only designer of my gardens.

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