Extreme spring weather fluctuations can harm bulbs and perennials that are laying dormant underground. What happens during the drastic weather changes in late winter and early spring is referred to as "frost-heaving."
Frost-heaving occurs when garden soils expand and contract through the process of freezing and thawing. If this continues, eventually plant roots and new spring growth will become exposed and injury will be caused from the drying cold conditions prevalent during February and March.
According to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, the best way to protect bulbs and perennials is to add soil around the base of the plant to cover exposed parts and then add mulch. Mulch delays spring growth until the weather is warmer and more stable for the young plants to survive. Homeowners should use mulch that does not compact easily, allows air and water movement into and out of the soil, breaks down slowly and is weed free.
Watch for frost-heaving in beds that catch the sun throughout the day. Warmer beds are more susceptible than those that are shaded. Homeowners should also avoid watering frost-heaved plants. Adding moisture will only cause more damage to the plants in the cold weather.
To find out more about what to do for early spring growth of bulbs, perennials and shrubs visit the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension website at www.ext.colostate.edu.