Spring growth at unprecedented early levels

In All Posts, Horticulture by Derek McKay0 Comments

Crocus 2/23/17

The past seven days have seemed like they came strait out of a week in April or even May! We’ve had an unprecedented warm spell with many days being in the 60s and three of those days in the 70s which is more 70+ degree days in February then Des Moines has ever had before. One day we were just shy of the all time record for this month but Cedar Rapids managed to break their all time record high with a temperature reaching 76.F yesterday. This warm spell is completely unheard of for this part of the country this time of year and records don’t show any years where we’ve had a warm spell last this long and it shows because many cities broke record highs and record warm lows numerous days this week. We should normally expect for this time of year to be in the upper 30s to lower 40s and we’ve actually had night time lows that have been more then 10 degrees above this average high.

Spring growth garden as of 2/23/17

The warm weather has wreaked havoc on all plants because with a bit of rain and the warmth everything is thinking its spring and is well more than a month early which is downright crazy! It’s been so warm we actually need to be reminded that it is still winter and normally we’re lucky to even have a snow-free ground right now. Instead we’re seeing lawns starting to green up, trees starting to bud/bloom and spring bulbs starting to flower! The buds of Magnolia, Lilacs, Redbuds and Forsythia have all started to swell even break. This is far beyond where any of these species should be and I would not be surprised if this is of record early values but I have not found any historical reports to back this up. While this may be seem like a great thing to some this is actually very concerning because when buds of plants break too early they are left susceptible to any cold snaps that come in. I cannot say for sure since I’ve never seen anything this early but I would be concerned that anything that has had buds swell may be damaged if the temperatures drop too low in the coming weeks, so hopefully it wont.

Winter Aconite 2/23/17

All of the early spring risers like Crocus, Winter Aconite and Snowdrops are in full bloom currently and actually the Snowdrops have nearly completed their bloom cycle already and normally these would be just starting now. Daffodils are 5-6″ tall with many having flower buds starting to rise above ground and Tulips have first and second leaves unfolding. This stuff would be underground or barely popping up in a normal given year.

Daffodils as of 2/23/17

One of the most amazing points of all this is just how fast everything popped this week! The Daffodils pictured above are the same ones at the top of my last post from the 15th, last week they were barely coming up and this week they are 6″ tall. The warm night lows have really helped to fueled growth, hopefully the cooler nights and snow ahead wont harm anything that has took advantage of the early spring warmth we just had.

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