This story is straight from the pages of a favorite newsletter.
Old Bulbs Gazette, Dec 2008
I order a lot of bulbs from http:Old House Gardens because their bulbs are sturdy historic and proven rebloomers.
I am patiently waiting for these late bloomers, Twin Sisters, to bloom in my Southeast Missouri Garden. My pre lit Christmas tree leaves me with plenty of bulb-warming Christmas tree light at the ready.
N. x medioluteus, TWIN SISTERS, 1597
Don’t Pack Up Those Xmas Lights: Extreme Gardening in Minnesota
Last winter when we wrote that hardy bulbs are rarely bothered by mid-winter thaws, our good customer Bonnie Dean of Minnesota offered a different perspective:
“I live in Minneapolis. Occasionally we get a week of spring-like weather in February, once as high as 76 degrees. The bulbs are fooled — up they come! By the time the shoots are about 3 inches high, the usual teens to twenties temperatures come back and stay for weeks. In those situations, the plants do die. Or they end up blighted and stunted, taking years to recover, if at all.
“But I found a way to circumvent this. Each year when I pack away the Christmas decorations, I make sure a few strings of the small lights are kept accessible. Then, when a prolonged mid-winter thaw is followed by even more hard, hard cold, I get out the lights. I plug them into the outside outlet and string them along the ground, around and between but not touching the emerging daffodils and tulips. (I am careful to remove dead leaves on the ground so there is nothing flammable near the lights.)
“Then, using old pizza boxes or whatever cardboard I have on hand, I make long low ‘tents’ over the plants and lights. Over that, to keep out the wind and keep in the warmth, I put old blankets, worn out bathroom rugs, frayed towels, whatever — even old painting tarps. I keep the lights plugged in until the temperature approaches 32 degrees more consistently, as long as it takes.
“The little bit of warmth from the bulbs keeps the soil just warm enough to keep the tender shoots alive. So, instead of shriveling in the hard winter, the shoots hold their own and even grow a bit. As a result, I have the most showy, prolific and early daffodils in the neighborhood. Some years, I have had the ONLY daffodils in the neighborhood!
“Please share this idea with your readers. Here in Minnesota, even hardy bulbs can lose their zip when the weather fluctuates as much as it does these days.”