A few years ago, a tabloid journalist made headlines with the story of a landscaper who had rolled out turf on a beautiful carpet of snow. Yes, it had snowed the day before. The journalist in question cried out scandal. For us horticulturists, that was absolutely normal and we wondered what the problem was.
Because there are several of us who, because of lack of time in the fall, stretch the bulb planting season into the first snowfalls. And experience proves us right. Yes, you can continue planting, even when it snows and even when the ground is frozen. And in the spring, it’s as if nothing had happened. Everything grows as usual.
In Dormancy… they Sleep!
The explanation is simple. Once a plant is dormant, it ceases to grow and enters a kind of sleep where it hardly realizes what’s going on. Scorching cold, several feet of snow, frozen ground… the plant will behave as it normally would.
Plant in the Dark
And that brings me to planting fall bulbs. If you’re like me, you’re constantly charmed by beautiful photos of blooming spring bulbs and… you buy a little more than you have time to plant. So we find ourselves planting at the last minute, sometimes in the middle of the night, by the light of a headlamp, because there is snow announced for the next day.
Plant in Frozen Ground
I can also tell you about the time when I was working on the creation of a large garden in northern Lac-Saint-Jean. That year, we planted thousands of bulbs late in November. The ground was frozen solid 3 inches (10 cm) deep. Impossible to plant with a small trowel. The solution: a drill! Equipped with an ice auger, our drill dug thousands of holes 5 inches (15 cm) deep, into which we dropped the tulips. They were then covered with frosted soil. The work was done quickly and well!
The following spring, everything was splendid! All the tulips survived.
Plant Under Snow
Several years later, I really, completely forgot to plant my tulips in the fall. One morning I woke up and 5 inches (15 cm) of snow had fallen. Oh no! My tulips, I cried. I pulled out the shovel, cleared the snow, cut out a layer of crusted soil and dumped the bulbs into this more than inadequate hole. I quickly replaced the patch of soil, including lumps of ice, and buried my masterpiece under a few shovelfuls of dirty snow. The following spring, once again, the show was spectacular!
Yes, I know, it’s much easier and faster to plant bulbs in beautiful loose soil. But don’t let cold, frost and even snow get you down! Plant bulbs… even if it snows!