How Will A Warm Winter and Even Warmer Spring Effect My Gardens?

As many of us have experienced, the winter has been unusually mild with an extended period of warm temperatures and very little snow.

Most of us have already seen some buds swelling in the trees, on garden plants or bulb foliage peeking up through the ground. For some, it may not be too early but for many it is, especially those of us in the Northeast and Midwest.

So, what is the prognosis and should we be worried about it? Well, the short answer is that there really isn’t anything special to do to help your plants. It would be difficult for us to predict if there will be any adverse effects of an unusually mild winter and early spring warm period but personally we’re not concerned about any of our plants or flowers, so neither should you. We suggest you take advantage of the warm weather and get outside. Prepare your soil, clean up any areas you need to and if you didn’t get to it this fall, now is a good time to mulch around trees, shrubs and perennials.

Any bulb foliage you have peeking through now will likely, for most, be touched by a frost or low temperatures at some point through April, Early May. What happens if this occurs is it may turn the edges of the leaves brown and dry, but it will have no lasting effect or hurt the plant and will not stop it from blooming.


Native plants will fare the best, since they are well adapted to the temperature extremes in your area.

Continue your basic garden practices as you have always done. You may want to pay some extra attention to anything you wintered over in containers. They continue losing water through their leaves in winter, especially during warm and dry periods, and will perform better if you water them as needed.

Get ready for sowing your wildflower seed but make sure if you are in colder regions that normally get a frost in April-May, that you don’t jump the gun and sow your seed too early. A heavy frost will damage your annuals if they germinate and perhaps some perennials. It is great to purchase your wildflower seed now before the big spring rush of April and May occur, but don’t get over excited and sow it too early. Just store in a cool, dry place and your seeds will be just fine. Keep an eye on the weather and when it looks right and you are positive there is no further chance of frost/cold, it is time sow. Since weather patterns have been unpredictable, do a staggered seeding by sowing half of your purchase at the appropriate time and the other half a bit later. This will insure that if the weather has an extreme change and a cold snap occurs that was unforeseen, you still have half your seed to sow and you won’t have a total loss. Best practice is to sow when you normally do each year and enjoy your wildflowers this summer!!  

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