Snow showers will not spoil early spring flowers

I was so hoping to prove that the groundhog was wrong. We are so close to the official start of spring. Wouldn’t you know it is snowing again with below freezing temperatures. I am guessing the early spring songbirds that have arrived up here in Northwest Ohio are wondering if they should fly back south.

Another early sign of spring, according to the Ohio State University phenology calendar, is Silver Maples are beginning to bloom. I know this is correct as I have seen Silver Maple flowers on the pavement in various places.

Phenology in horticulture is based on Growing Degree Days. Growing Degree Days is the measurement of the growth and development of plants and insects during the growing season. This GDD phenology tool was developed by researchers with the Ohio State University Agriculture Research and Development Centers. The phenology tool is available online:

This website uses Growing Degrees Days that ultimately provides a biological calendar that “marries” a list of plants at their first and full bloom and insect activity. This calendar is a sequence of events that includes both plants and insects including their ties to each organism based on the number of Growing Degree Days.

We also have reached the number of Growing Degree Days for our spring bulbs to emerge from the soil. This now begs the question about my spring bulbs emerging: Will the colder temperatures and snow hurt, or even cause damage, to my spring bulbs, mainly my daffodils and tulips?

The answer is probably no. Even if the foliage is matted down by late season snow, the flowers should be fine. Although the leaves have emerged, the flowers are still protected underground. Of course, this does not include some of our spring flowering bulbs that have already appeared and have flowered or are now beginning to flower. These include Snowbells, Winter Aconites, Crocuses and Hellebores, also known as Lenten Roses. Not all is lost as these early flowering bulbs are sometimes protected by snow from the freezing temperatures, and they do just fine.

Daffodils, Hyacinths and Tulips are later flowering bulbs that should be fine through this cold snap. If you have mulch on top of the foliage just let it go, it will not hurt a thing. In fact, removing it can damage the foliage.

So, do not worry about your bulbs, they should be fine even if covered by snow or suffering through cold temperatures. Unless, of course, if your tulips are surrounded by deer.