The winter weather in 2013 has caused a lot of grief all over the U.S. with many areas experiencing record cold and snowfall. Here in the south, we haven’t quite had it so bad, but we can still find things to complain about – like short, stumpy tulips.
Back in the fall, I purchased several bags of tulip bulbs from my local home store and planted them in clumps throughout the flower beds. Then I waited for the cold weather because, of course, everyone knows that tulips like a good cold spell before they pop out and bloom. And I waited for the cold, and waited some more, but winter never seemed to materialize. By mid-January, the tulip bulbs were sprouting, and I figured we’d have an early spring.
Then winter finally came with a vengeance. We were faced with days and nights of freezing temperatures, cold wind and plenty of rain; we even braved a couple snow storms. I felt sorry for the poor tulips shivering under the snow piles, but figured that all would be well when the spring finally arrived for real.
Once we had a few warm days, the tulips started to bloom. The only problem was that they never grew stems, or grew only very short stems before bursting into bloom. This is not what I had expected; I wanted to see big, bountiful blossoms reaching at least a foot into the sky. But instead I saw colorful blobs nestled close to the ground, struggling to get higher than the violas planted nearby.
Had I done something wrong? Did I not plant properly? I went online to do some research, and found enough information to help me reach the following conclusion: It’s all Mother Nature’s fault.
It’s true that tulips like a nice long cold spell in the ground before they bloom. Because this recent winter started out so mild, the bulbs were tricked into sprouting early. Once a tulip has sprouted, the stem likes warm temperatures to reach full height. Sadly, our bout of late winter cold shocked the tulip stems, and they have demonstrated their disdain by refusing to grow. Hey, I can’t say that I blame them; I would hunker down and refuse to come out too if I had been teased by tepid temperatures only to have a bucket of ice water thrown on my head.
While Mother Nature has given us winter-weary southerners a bit of spite, we can be grateful for a few things. First, the late-blooming tulips still have hope of growing nice long stems like they’re supposed to. Second, the plentiful rain we’ve had this winter is much appreciated. And third, we can feel blessed to look outside at blooming tulips – stumpy and all – rather than another foot of fresh snow like our neighbors to the north are doing. For that, I am grateful.