One spring’s warmth doesn’t make a trend.
That’s what local experts are patiently advising those gardeners in a bit of a tizzy about the 6-12 inches of snow that could pelt their emerging tulips, crocus and pansies.
“We were a whole month ahead last year,” said botanist Shirley Mah Kooyman of Plymouth. “I think it’s mostly cabin fever that’s making us desperate for color.”
The prospect of fresh snow riding the coattails of a longed-for thaw sends even Minnesotans who know better into a funk.
The best advice: Don’t panic.
The best reassurance: Plants are tough.
Most bulbs can weather a cold snap, Kooyman said, although a prolonged chill could result in less showier blooms this year. “Root systems can handle cold.”
Dale Bachman, CEO of Bachman’s, said most plants remain safely dormant at this point. “The thing that’s so dramatic is that everyone is thinking of last year and how extremely early things were,” he said. “It’s just two completely different spring seasons.”
Bachman noted that “snow is the best winter protection we get, so a little bit of extra snow, while we don’t need the winter protection now, is just not going to be a factor.”
People who simply need some pansies within eyesight can plant them in pots, which can be tucked into the garage if temperatures plummet, then eventually planted in soil, he said.
Kooyman said the forecast snow may even have some benefit if the ground has thawed enough to absorb some moisture when it melts. She also put a bit of metaphorical mulch on the notion that Minnesota’s long tradition of Zone 4 may be inching toward a warmed Zone 5 — what gardeners call “zone envy.”
“This may also be a good time to sound another word of caution not to get too excited about the zone map changing,” she added. “Not when we still have the possibility of cold in April.”