Many prefer a more mild winter as for me I love snow; more the merrier! However, the majority I know would much rather have warm weather. A good gauge of the weather is whether or not it is “flip-flop” weather.
To me there is nothing cozier than Autumn and Winter. Fires burning, long-patterned thick warm socks snuggled up to one another playing footsies, hot tea or cocoa, warm fuzzy blankets–what more is there??
You may ask yourself what does this have to do with landscaping? Well, as with most humans going dormant in winter is normal and so do our plants, usually. However, the warmer winter we have been having confuses them. This seems to be a consistent consensus across most of the United States. Many plants are blooming early thinking it is spring time.
This will generally not harm the plants it just makes for a much less vibrant spring time. Generally these blooms are categorized two ways: fall flowering plants which are having extended blooming periods and spring flowers that are blooming too early.
Toad lilies, chrysanthemums, asters, and some types of anemones are some of the flowers that usually bloom in the late summer and fall; many have had an extended blooming time in the winter. They generally would have had a series of cold nights in November that would have cut them short but this didn’t happen because we have had such a warm November. November here in the Shenandoah Valley seemed more like summer a few times and spring with all the showers the rest of the time.
The flowering quince, forsythia, cherry blossom trees, viburnums, jasmines, rhododendrons, azaleas, and some of the spring woody plants are starting to wake up early. These kinds of plants produce a “budget” which allows them to bloom once a year. This action typically occurs in late February or March. However, due to the warm cycles in our climate this late fall and early winter these plants are spending their budgets early.
The plants have simply been tricked into thinking the warm weather is their next cycle. This causes the buds to open. One of the single questions we are ask most when this happens is will they bloom again in the spring? The simple answer is they will likely not bloom again in the spring. They will create their new budgets in the summer and hope for a normal winter so that they will bloom again the next spring.
Not the answer most of us want to hear, however, what an enjoyable winter we are having with the beautiful flowers.
Happy New Year!