The Q&A Archives: Spring Bulbs Sprouting In Fall - Help!

Question: Help! I planted a ton of bulbs (Irises, Hyacinths, Crocuses, Daffodils, etc.) for the first time about a month ago (last week of oct/1st week of nov.) but now we've had 2 bouts of warm weather and some, I think the irises, have put up shoots about 4 inches, maybe even more after today, above the ground. Someone told me I'll have to dig them up and grow them in pots indoors now, because they won't survive the winter that way. Is that true? And is there anything I can do to prevent the rest of my bulbs from sprouting or continuing to grow in the next few warm days? Also, since it's been warm, can I plant replacements for the bulbs that sprouted now?

Answer: Plants are amazing and can withstand all kinds of crazy weather, so relax. The iris should be fine just as they are; next spring simply remove any foliage that has browned and leave anything that looks healthy alone. (The main danger to iris over winter is that they need perfect drainage so that moisture does not puddle around them or their rhizomes may rot.) Some of the bulbs may put up some foliage and it too should be fine (albeit maybe a bit tattered) through the winter. Grape hyacinths in particular always sprout some leaves in the fall, this is normal. Bulbs are resiliant plants; crocus, believe it or not, can sometimes even be seen blooming in the snow! Since we can't change the weather, about the only thing you can do is to make sure there are several inches of mulch over the planting area (not atop the iris) to help moderate any swings in soil temperature.

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