Spring Weather in Winter: What does this means for your plants?
Unseasonably warm weather in winter is welcoming to many Ohioans who ritually head for the beach in December through February. Many homeowners however, have begun to worry that this warm weather may have a dramatic effect on shrubs and plants in their landscape. With temperatures reaching 60 degrees Fahrenheit in early February, ornamental plants have begun to show swollen buds. Even some hardy bulbs have begun to pop out of the soil. Does this mean we’re in for a flowerless and uninteresting spring?
You must remember that temperature is not the only factor to influence plant growth. Plants respond heavily to the amount of sunlight provided during a given day. During the winter months, days are shorter and plants are still receiving less sunlight despite the fact that we have seen high temperatures almost double the norm for this time of year in Columbus, Ohio. You must also take in to account that although temperatures are warm during the day, the night temperatures are still in the mid 30’s. In most instances, plants are not as easily tricked by Mother Nature as we might think.
Damage can occur however, to plants when they are planted out of their range of cold hardiness. Plants are assessed by their acclimation to cold temperatures and hardiness to those areas. When we plant things that are slightly less hardy for an area, we start to see less flower production and winter injury symptoms. This is why it is important to install appropriate plants to your area. Even when the weather is out of the ordinary, shrubbery can withstand the slight change.
What can be problematic is if we continue to have warm weather through the winter and into the spring. If we have a quick drop in freezing temperatures in late March – April and plants have begun to leaf out and fresh buds open we will see a lot of injury to fruiting trees and flowering plants. Mother Nature is a cruel mistress at times but plants have adapted to her unusual behavior for millions of years. These slight changes in the weather patterns will not decimate your showy plants but it may harm a few of the colors we have come to appreciate. Enjoy the weather while it is here, for in Ohio it could snow tomorrow.