Flower Bulbs versus The Freeze
Granted, there aren’t too many things in common between bears and flower bulbs, but there is one main similarity that the two share: if they don’t spend the frigid months of winter sleeping, or they emerge from their hibernation too early, they get cranky. And just like you probably don’t want the experience of dealing with a cranky bear that got woken up too early, you don’t want to have your flower bulbs being to sprout too soon, resulting in poor blooms.
When we have a mild winter, even though we enjoy the lack of snow, the flower bulbs suffer. The soil stays at a higher temperature than is desirable, and the bulbs begin to emerge much earlier than they should. Since weather is hardly ever consistent, especially in the winter and spring months, what usually happens is that the bulbs start to grow, and once the plant breaks above the soil they are vulnerable to the elements if it happens to dip down below freezing. If this happens, the bulbs freeze, and either don’t bloom at all, or provide a weak substitution for what they could have been.
Another contributing factor if your bulbs do not reach fruition is the possibility that they aren’t planted far enough into the ground. While you may have planted them at an acceptable depth at first, during the winter the soil freezes and thaws, and can actually move the bulbs further toward to the surface as time goes on. A good way to keep your bulbs underground longer, which will diminish the possibility of them breaking through the ground too early and freezing, is to mulch your flowerbed.
The Benefits to Mulching Your Flowerbed
When you plant your bulbs in the fall, make sure to cover the bed with anywhere between a three to four inch layer of well-composted mulch. This additional layer will help with a few different problems. First of all, it helps keep moisture in the soil, and hold it in as well, which is beneficial as long as the soil isn’t too wet. If you make sure to get the well-composted mulch, then you’ll also be adding additional nutrients in the form of organic matter to your flower bed, which serves as an excellent natural fertilizer.
Making sure that the later of mulch is at least three inches thick means that it will also act as an insulator. It prevents the soil from freezing as quickly as it would if the mulch were absent, meaning that the normal repeated cycle of freezing and thawing the bulbs would go through is eliminated. Once the temperature is consistently below freezing, the soil will eventually freeze, in which case the mulch continues to act as an insulator, keeping the soil from thawing too early. Even though this may not seem good, it’s actually much better for the bulbs, because they remain in a dormant stage for a prolonged period of time.
By taking these extra measures, you’re much closer to ensuring that your bulbs emerge from the ground well out of the danger of a rough freeze, and are ready for spring time! The extra organic matter that was used in the composted mulch well help nourish your flowers and the bulbs, even after they’ve finished blooming, at which point the cycle will start all over again!
Happy planting, and good luck!!