It's only February, but my tulips are coming up. What should I do?


It's only February, but my tulips are coming up. What should I do?


Tulips, daffodils, and other spring-flowering bulbs normally begin emerging from the ground in March or early April in Iowa.  However, mild winter weather can encourage premature growth.  The early emergence of spring-flowering bulb foliage is most often seen on the south and west sides of homes and other buildings.  These areas are usually warmer than the rest of the yard because sunlight is reflected off the building to the ground.  In addition, heated basements keep the soil near buildings relatively warm. 

tulips emerging at the end of February Tulip foliage emerging in late February.

While the premature emergence of spring-flowering bulb foliage is undesirable, the danger is not as great as it may seem.  The foliage of tulips, daffodils, and other spring bulbs can tolerate cold temperatures.  Oftentimes, normal winter weather (cold temperatures and snow) returns, delaying further growth.  A blanket of snow is especially helpful.  The snow discourages additional growth and also protects the foliage from extreme cold. 

If foliage has emerged more than a few inches or flower buds are present and temperatures below the mid 20s°F are predicted, plants can be mulched. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or pine needles, around the base of the emerging tulips to help insulate the soil and regulate temperature fluctuations. Remove the mulch once normal temperatures return.  

Learn more about tulips in this article: All About Tulips.

Last updated on
February 26, 2024