What home gardeners should expect for plants and flowers with changes in weather

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — Below is an interview with Jason Londo, a Research Geneticist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS) who works for a unit called the Grape Genetics Research unit in Geneva, New York. Meteorologist James Gilbert asks about how our recent weather changes could affect planting and budding for this season. A transcription of this interview can be found below:

With the warm weather we’re experiencing what have you seen so far, and what should we expect from our flora when we get these warm temperatures?

“I think the stuff that you’re seeing come up are the really early spring bulbs, and that’s what I’m seeing in my yard too. That’s pretty common even with snow on the ground. They will start up this early in the spring. I don’t think we have much to worry about with fruit and trees with just two days of warm weather. This will make them all less resistant to the cold, but not enough to be in any sort of danger. If we had this for a couple more days you would start seeing buds starting to push up on cherries and forsythia, those real early species.”

With the forecast calling for colder weather down the road, we shouldn’t be too concerned is what you’re saying?

“If we have consistently cold nights that really keeps things down and sleeping, and it looks like we’ve been mostly in the 40s during the day and a little bit cold during the night, but no real severe cold, everything should be okay as long as this doesn’t repeat itself over and over again.” 

Is there anything a home gardener should be doing during these warm spells like putting anything in the ground, or getting mulch ready?

“I personally am cleaning up my yard, cleaning up dead things from the winter. It depends on what you have in your yard. Now is a good time to clean it up because it is going to be spring soon, but I wouldn’t plant anything yet. We’re just in the middle of March now, so we have another good month and a half before we’re past frost risk, but I personally am not starting anything.”

Is there anything else I missed, or anything you want to let people know about?

“I think this is just good news because we’re finally coming out of winter. It’s been a while since people have been outside and able to enjoy it, and I think you should go out and enjoy it. The rest of spring is on its way and we just have to wait and see what the rest of March and April look like. Hopefully this is a good indicator that we’ll all be outside again soon.”

Is the only red flag for you when we (temperatures) get down into the 20s and 10s at the end of March, that sort of brutal cold? Or maybe that we haven’t seen enough of a break for that to be a threat?

“It really depends on the species. Most of the things that wake up very early in the spring are pretty good at surviving a cold snap. It’s just if they get too far along, so if you see flower tissues where the flower is actually opening and then we get a cold snap, that’s going to be highly damaging to those flowers. So if it’s a fruit tree, that’s a big problem. If it’s your ornamental bush growing in your yard it’s not gonna be great because you’ll miss out on the flowers, but it’s not going to kill the plant.

The extended forecast doesn’t look like anything to be particularly worried about, but if we had a series of very warm days and warm nights everything basically gets right to the edge of breaking bud, and then a cold snap can be pretty damaging. Right now it doesn’t look like that, but the one thing about our weather is you should just wait a week, so if we get a really cold snap at the beginning of April some things might take some damage, but right now its not too bad.”

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