Will warm winter hurt plants?


There has been a lot of talk about the weather and how it might be affecting plants. If you have been on social media you may have seen photos of roses and other plants in bloom in December.

While this is not unusual, we are seeing more this season because of the extended warmer weather. And it’s not a cause for panic.

Trees and shrubs that have been blooming sporadically set their buds for this spring late last summer. Those buds that bloomed recently won’t bloom again but there is a good chance that you will still see ample bloom.

What I have observed is that it really depends on the specific location of the plant and the temperature. For instance, a friend of mine lives in the city and has had daffodils and tulips breaking through as well as roses still in bloom.

I live in the county and have a very open exposure and have no tulips and daffodils peeking through and nothing in bloom.

And again, I emphasize sporadic blooming. I haven’t seen photos of plants that are in full spring bloom; most of them have a few blossoms open.

Those flower buds that have opened won’t bloom again but hopefully there are still more buds on the plant for spring bloom.

Therefore, if you had a full show of blooms on any trees or shrubs this December, you likely won’t see much in the way of a spring show. But there is always the next year!

The good news has been in the vegetable gardens. Those who have kale, chard and other plants that tolerate cooler temperatures harvested through the holidays.

Spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils, crocus, and others come up early quite often, though we don’t usually see them this early.

Some want to mulch over them to protect the foliage but this actually keeps the soil warm and may encourage growth. Others want to cover and protect them from injury. This is a lot of work but it’s up to you!

I just leave mine alone and let Mother Nature take her course. If the foliage is damaged, it can be cut off so that the plants don’t appear ragged.

The major concern for plant damage is temperature extremes. Really cold temperatures following a really warm spell can cause damage to flower and foliage buds.

There are so many variables at play that it’s really hard to predict winter and cold injury.

The bottom line is that there is really nothing you can do to prevent what’s happening in the garden due to the weather. We may or we may not see plant damage due to the extended warm spell. We just have to wait and see.

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at bennett.27@osu.edu.


Reader Comments


Next Up in

Let's a go: Tickets to Mario-kart themed Mushroom Rally now on sale
Let's a go: Tickets to Mario-kart themed Mushroom Rally now on sale

Calling all go-kart racers and video game players: "Let's a go!" Mushroom Rally, a touring, real-life version of the classic "Super Mario Kart" video game series, will roll into Cincinnati from June 15-22 next year. For those who haven't played a video game in the past three decades, Japanese company Nintendo first introduced "...
Scam alert: Fake Amazon email targets online shoppers
Scam alert: Fake Amazon email targets online shoppers

The holiday season is a busy time of year for everybody, including scammers. There is an email scam going around with a new twist that targets online shoppers. This latest scam specifically goes after people who use Amazon. While online shopping may be more convenient, it can also be riskier. In the latest scam, an email that appears to be...
Freezing? Oakwood woman launches new athletic pants that let you cover up and keep your shoes on
Freezing? Oakwood woman launches new athletic pants that let you cover up and keep your shoes on

Patty Vanderburgh had three bad options when she was running off to her boot camp exercise class on cold January days five or so years ago: 1. freezing her tail off as she ran between her car and the  gym in her shorts in 5 degree weather 2. pulling basic sweatpants on over her shoes and shorts  3. buttoning up a pair of old-school tear-away...
The Christmas gift that gives back: tummy rubs for dogs
The Christmas gift that gives back: tummy rubs for dogs

Many dogs love tummy rubs. Teddy, our 4-year-old Lab, is no exception. Just walk by him, and if you connect with his gaze, he’s got you. Big, round eyes with tail thumping — how could any softy resist? I can’t. My husband, Ed, and daughter, Jordan, can’t either. Dr. Peter Brown on petmd.com says tummy rubbing are soothing. &ldquo...
5 Christmas traditions that aren't as traditional as you think
5 Christmas traditions that aren't as traditional as you think

Your Christmas traditions may feel like they've been around for a long time, but many aren't as traditional as you might think.  They may have origins that go back for years, but, in many cases, they've evolved quite a bit. Otherwise, the popular image of Santa Claus might still be "Rough Nicholas" instead of the jolly figure we know...
More Stories