What should I do when spring bulbs start to sprout in late winter?
—Barbara Richards, North Wales, PA
Bulbs usually aren’t damaged much when they sprout early, but if you have some snow piled up on your property, it wouldn’t hurt to shovel it on top of the bulbs to keep them cooler and slow their growth. The best way to approach this problem, however, lies in choosing your planting sites carefully. Avoid places that heat up early, such as south-facing slopes or areas near the foundation on the south side of your house or garage. Be sure, too, that you plant bulbs deeply enough. When they’re too shallow, they warm earlier.
Put several inches of mulch over your bulb beds as soon as the soil freezes in late autumn. In addition to protecting the bulbs from extreme cold, mulch insulates the soil and helps keep it cool enough to discourage early sprouting. Bulb foliage that’s pale and yellowish under the mulch will green up when it’s exposed to sunlight.