If there is one thing I have learned over the last 39 years of being in lawn care is that weather predictions are just that, predictions, and you never know if it’s going to rain, snow, get hot or cold until it’s actually happening. I did a search on the possible forecasts for this winter and they range from one extreme to the other and all things in between. Is spring coming early this year? Maybe, maybe not, we will just have to wait and see.
At this time of year, I travel across the US conducting training seminars so I get to experience a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions. Being from the Midwest, it was pleasant to travel to a few southern locations and enjoy some very nice weather during the last couple of weeks. However, that does not mean the rest of the country is having warmer temperatures. While it may be warmer in the south, it still is cold in most northern areas. On some occasions, the highs for the day are well below freezing.
The up and down temperatures can and will affect many plants, especially trees, shrubs and many perennials. For the most part, these plants are adapted to temperature extremes and can handle these fluctuations. A lot depends on how long the warmer temperatures last before they nose dive again.
It can be a tricky balancing act at this time of year. As daylight starts to increase, buds start to swell. If the warmer temperatures last for several days, the buds may begin to open. If this happens and the temperatures drop below freezing, the tender tissue of the newly formed leaves may sustain damage, resulting in leaves that have voids or appear distorted.
Many spring flowering trees and shrubs produce flowers before leaves, and the flowers are even more susceptible to damage from freezing temperatures. It is always sad when flowers are damaged in the spring since that is the only time all year they produce flowers.
Spring bulbs, like tulips and daffodils, are very adaptable to freezing temperatures since they are often the first to push through the ground in the early spring. I have seen my own spring bulbs covered in up to 6 inches of snow and they do just fine once the snow melted. I am always amazed at the ability of all plants to overcome the ravages and stresses of extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, and persevere and grow.
Will spring arrive early this year? We will just have to wait and see.