Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > December 2015 > GARDEN TALK with DOUG - SHOULD GARDENERS BE WORRIED ABOUT THIS WARM START TO WINTER?

GARDEN TALK with DOUG - SHOULD GARDENERS BE WORRIED ABOUT THIS WARM START TO WINTER?

Is this a sign of global warming?  Who knows.  But, the scientists do attribute this warm trend to El Nino.
Here in Virginia we are experiencing (most of us are enjoying) an unseasonably warm start to winter.  Should we be concerned?  A quick answer is:  it depends.  Most importantly is that we do not want to panic and over react. 
Some plants that would normally be dormant seem to be coming back into growth.  But, not all our plants are “fooled”.  Some of our plants remain dormant.  Why is that you ask?  It is just in their physiological make up.  Some plants will refuse to come back into growth no matter how warm we remain this winter.
There is no doubt that Mother Nature has been kind when it comes to the needed rainfall.  It is very important for the health of our plants that they remain watered when going into any cold period.  With over 3 inches of rain this past week and with more rain coming all our plants need is a gradual decline in our temperatures.  It is not good for our plants to be in the 60’s or 70’s and then dramatically drop into the 20’s the following day.  This is a shock on us as it is for our plants.  The best case scenario is a gradual return to more normal winter temperatures.
I walked out into my yard the other day and observed the flower buds on my camellia japonica were swelling and beginning to show a tinge of color.  This is not good.  Some of these buds will be damaged or killed in normal winter temperatures.  But, this plant has been through this before and will survive.
Bulbs, such as daffodils, muscari, grape hyacinth, and others are beginning to sprout out of the ground.  Like I said earlier – don’t panic.  The flower buds are still protected.  The worse case will be that some of the foliage may show some winter tip burn.  DO NOT GO OUT AND ADD EXTRA LAYER OF MULCH ON TOP OF THE BULBS!!  Doing extra mulch to do more harm than good.
One bad case with a mild winter is that pests and diseases that are held in check by a normal winter may become more of a problem.  Lifecycles of benefical insects may get out of synch with the pests they help control.
Here is what we need to happen:  we need to return, gradually, to having a normal winter with normal winter temperatures.  If not, most of our plants with adapt and survive – especially our native plants.  And, a warmer winter will give us gardeners some days to enjoy our gardens and spend some time outside.  Not such bad news after all.
                                                                HAPPY WINTER
Posted: 12/26/2015 by Doug Hensel | with 0 comment(s)
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