Lea: Cover your daffodils to protect them from frost

Lea: Cover your daffodils to protect them from frost

February 2nd, 2013 By Pat Lea in Life Entertainment

Q. Will my daffodils survive these freezes, or can I make them stronger? How do I prevent this damage?

A. Daffodils are one of the first and cheeriest signs of spring, but our erratic weather is always a threat. Weeks of warm weather can push flowers out of the ground too soon, then low temps can damage them. Whether a daffodil can survive a freeze depends on many variables.

Warm soil temperatures can protect the plant for short freezes. A warm exposure can keep it from freezing even with lower temps, and an early stage of development may protect the emerging flower.

Gardeners can avert disasters caused by untimely freezes by arranging mulch over fairly short emerging stems. Or by placing black plastic plant pots over clumps of daffodils or laying freeze cloth or a handy sheet over large areas and hoping for the best.

However, if deep, long or devastating freezes arrive when plants are in almost full bloom, there is not much any gardener can do.

You can harvest the almost-open flowers before the freeze and bring them in to enjoy in a vase. If the freeze is unexpected, and you have no time to cover the plants, you must deal with the damage problems. A squishy-stemmed, wilted flower needs some surgery. Cut off the stem, clip back damaged foliage and allow your daffodils to recover.

When you remove damaged buds and foliage, you remove the possibility of fungus and rot. The remaining leaves will continue to grow and sustain the bulb. As leaves mature and danger of frost is over, you can fertilize with granulated fertilizer, bone meal or blood meal. You want the foliage to be strong and healthy. Hopefully, the bulb will be healthy below ground and will produce flowers next year.

If this happens every year for you, check your bulb catalogs for later blooming type daffodils since you may be in a cold pocket.