The Q&A Archives: Dug Bulbs Up Too Soon

Question: I was afraid of recent frost, and dug up my tender bulbs while there was still greenery on them. Then I read that you should wait until the plant is brown.

Will this affect the bulbs next year?

Answer: The bulb foliage serves to replenish the bulb, so any shortchanging will decrease its performance next year. This late in the season I would not expect to see a marked decrease. Some of the tender bulbs will withstand a light frost and even a freeze, while others are very sensitive to it and the bulb may even be damaged by it; had it frosted they would have turned brown overnight anyway so sometimes you really don't have too much choice. Sometimes though gardeners will cover the bulbs to try to protect them from an early cold snap and thus be able to allow them to grow for those last few weeks of warm weather we sometimes get. Some gardeners (like me) find the whole thing too stressful and just let them freeze -- needless to say we only grow a few of them each year.

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