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About a week and a half ago I noticed that a few of my bulbs in my garden had begun to break through the soil surface- so I took this photo. The bizarre warm temperatures we've been experiencing here in Chicago this winter has tricked them and they've begun to sprout.

Gardeners in the suburbs and Indiana had been reporting the same thing on the Gardenweb forums and I just saw a post on the CL garden forum from a person in Long Island who has Hyacinth bulbs breaking.

It got me curious so I called the U of I Extension number and spoke to Nancy Pollard. She seemed a little surprise to hear that I had bulbs sprouting in Chicago already.

I asked what course of action she would recommend and she said that mulching would be an option to help protect them when winter finally arrives for good. But with mulching there is the possibility that you could do damage . You see the growth we have now is being fueled by the bulb's reserves that it collected during the last growing season. If you mulch or cover the bulbs to protect any green growth now, you're prohibiting the bulb for collecting energy for the next growing season.

If these bulbs continue to grow and start to flower and then winter finally arrives they will suffer damage that we'll notice in the '08 growing season. If your bulbs are sprouting now it's better to just let them be because they're strong enough to survive cold temperatures when they finally get there. Chances are that they'll flower in Spring but if there are any negative effects it will most likely be little to no blooms in a year.

Nancy Pollard recommends to just let nature take it course and hope for better luck next year.


  1. I agree with your bulb advice. When people ask me what they should do about early sprouting bulbs, I always say 'do nothing'. It is only if the flower bud is showing that the bloom will be impacted.

    By the way, I'll be adding your blog to my list of gardening blogs, if you are willing to reciprocate.

  2. Anonymous10:17 PM

    Hi Carol,

    I know what you mean...but with plants sometimes it's hard and I find myself feeling like an over protective parent. Especially with the bulbs in question as they were gifted to me by the Diene on GW. She adopted me last year and gave me a bunch of stuff among them the flaming parrot bulbs that are threatening to grow.

    Sure I'll add you tonight to the blog list.



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