I'm often asked, when we have mild winters like this one, what effect it has on the plants. Well, there's some good news, and some not so good news. Basically, from this point on we are just crossing our fingers we don't have a cold snap.
First the good news- we'll see flowers earlier! Here in SW Michigan, you'll notice that daffodils and tulips are already poking through the ground, that spring blooming witchhazels are in flower in protected areas, the grass is greening up already and some cool weather plants have even clung to a few last buds. Semi-cold hardy shrubs, like butterfly bush and blue beard are holding bud much higher in their branches than previous years. I even have rosemary shrubs still going strong!
Now for the bad news. With each passing day, plants' cold hardiness decreases. This means that any cold snaps we have going forward will damage the developing buds. Some of this damage may not be visible until later in the spring, when flowers fail to develop fully, shoot tips wither away, or plants fail to leaf out altogether. Often, people forget all about the cold damage by the time the symptoms show up and become concerned about insect or disease damage- so bookmark this post for future reference!
For a more indepth description of degree days, where we are statisically and a bit more all around technical information, check out Dr. Cregg's article in the MSU Extension News here.
Let's keep our fingers crossed, and hope for Spring, shall we?!
Anna and her husband Todd own Arcadia Gardens, LLC a Stevensville, MI based landscape design and build company. Her degree in Horticulture with a focus on landscape management from Michigan State University allows Anna to select plants specific to on-site conditions and with maintenance requirements that suit the client's needs. She is comfortable designing across a range of styles- from contemporary to classic- and makes a point to include the client's input throughout the design process. She is an active member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and is serving as 2014 President of the APLD-Michigan Chapter. Anna has recently contributed to media such as "The Designer" and Gardendesign.com and is qualified to speak on a variety of topics from landscape design and maintenance to addressing local garden clubs and organizations.
PO Box 88
Stevensville, MI 49127