EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Lifestyle

March 26, 2008

Snow damaging spring bulb flowers

Q: Will a late snow hurt the bulb flowers? My tulips and daffodils are definitely up. What happens if it snows? Are they gone for the year?

A: Don't worry about a snowstorm if the buds aren't showing. In fact, a little snow could be helpful, certainly not as damaging as a dry, frigid period with no snow cover. The tips of the leaves may be damaged, but not the bud if it's still underground. During the summer, the leaves, even if somewhat damaged, will grow and regain strength for next year's flowers.

Q: In my church, many people donate Easter lilies for the altars. Now that the holy day is over, could the dozens of plants be planted out in gardens or do they have to be thrown out, as they have been in past years?

A: It is certainly worth a try but they are only marginally hardy.

If someone is willing to take the plants home and keep them indoors until the weather is warm enough to plant outdoors, you certainly could try. It will depend on exactly what variety of white lily has been grown by the florist. Some will survive, and some aren't quite hardy enough to survive without a lot of protection in our area. They have been forced, so it may take a year or two before they rebloom at their regular season, which is mid-summer, and they will be susceptible to the infamous Red Lily beetle, just as many of our other true lilies are, but it's well worth the sight of a white lily appearing in the garden some summer day, and they don't take up much room.

Remove the dead flowers as they wilt and treat the remaining stem as a green houseplant indoors till the weather warms. Plant the whole plant, dying stem and bulb and all, in the garden. Choose a warm protected area with at least a half-day of direct sun and plant the whole bulb about eight inches deep to give extra protection. Don't remove the dying stem and foliage until it can be pulled easily from the bulb. Mulch heavily in the fall. Mark the spot where you plant so you don't damage the bulb with further plantings.

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