HENDERSON COUNTY–Will your daffodils freeze when a cold snap comes along? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on where the daffodil is in its development when freezing temperatures arrive. Let me explain.
When the bulb is first planted,, or if they have been in the ground over summer, the cool, moist soil triggers the bulb into growing roots. This happens when the soil reaches around 60 degrees. It is at that time when something magical happens. It takes the energy stored in the bulb and changes those starches into something akin to glucose (but with some extra chemicals mixed in) which is what acts as an "antifreeze". This is why it is not advisable to cut the daffodil foliage off after they have bloomed. The foliage should die naturally, which allows those starches to be stored in the bulb for next year.
If the bulb has not had time to transform these starches, the daffodil bulb may freeze. Most of the time, in East Texas, the soil cools at a slow enough rate that the bulbs do not freeze before roots are formed. The daffodil then begins to put on foliage. This is when most gardeners question if the late freezes will harm their emerging daffodils. Usually, the answer is no. The foliage has the same glucose "antifreeze" formula in its cells, which allows the foliage cells to expand instead of burst when the temperatures fall below freezing.
If the daffodil’s foliage gets broken, which would keep the cells from being able to expand correctly, it may turn brown. If enough of the foliage is damaged, the flowers may be lost for this year, but keep the foliage on the bulb and it should bloom again next year. If the daffodils are in bloom when a cold front arrives, the flowers will not be able to withstand freezing temperatures. If the daffodils are already blooming and a freeze is expected, cut them off and enjoy them indoors.
For more information, call (903) 675-6130, email hendersonCMGA@gmail.com, or visit txmg.org/hendersonmg.