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What Happens to Plants that Bud Early?

After a bout of record warmth across much of the U.S. many people have noticed the early return of spring!
Flowers blossoming and trees budding under sunny skies and spring-like warmth; but what happens to all of those plants when winter weather returns?

And more importantly, does this mean a dreary spring?

Early Budding

With temperatures more than 30° above normal for many, flowers and trees alike started to shake off the cold of winter and welcome the early onset of spring.

The return of Winter

A potent cold front brought the return of winter, dropping temperatures across the nation back near normal.

The Enemy

The real enemy here is a sudden cold snap. Similar to the one we are seeing sweep the nation.

Plants are able to handle slow changes in temperatures and adapt to the environment. However, a quick cold snap and a deep freeze can be detrimental.
One of the main factors in this devastation is how far along the budding process each plant might be.

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Different Stages

A plant with an open bud and a closed bud are fighting two completely different battles.

The former exposes the plant to the elements, therefore the plant more susceptible to the detriment of a sudden drop in temperatures.
While the closed bud acts like a shield, protecting the plants from the return of winter.

Each plant adjusts to the elements differently, this means that one plant might welcome the early onset of spring with open buds while another might take a bit longer to open up.

Basically, each plant has a set amount of time that it takes to be convinced the seasons have changed. This holds true for both the return of spring and the onset of fall. If temperatures swing in a certain direction for long enough– a plant will think seasons have changed and make the necessary adjustments.

Can We Save Them?

Sadly there is not much that can be done to save plants from themselves.
Covering an early budder might actually do more harm than good!
It’s acts against the plants natural ability to protect itself.

But there are a few things you should keep in mind

Thinking Long Term

Plants that are native to a given region usually come prepared for the trickery of the seasons.

Just watch, the native plants will likely bounce back once temperatures rise again.
On the flip side, those plants that are not native, usually take the biggest hit from the weather whiplash.

A good thing to keep in mind when planting a garden!

Oh, and as long as we are on the topic– best to wait to do any spring planting! While the plants might get tricked by an early-season warm up– you know better and can save them by sticking to normal climatological planting cycles.

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Even if the buds take a hit, trees and bushes leaf in cycles. So there are multiple chances to get your greenery back once the warmth returns for good!

Not All News is Good News

It’s not the same story for insects. There are recorded cases of an early warm up tricking populations into emerging, only to be frozen out entirely by the return of winter!

For WeatherNation — Meteorologist Jeremy LaGoo


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