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Thursday 8 December 2022
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Upstate NY Winter Weather Causes Flowers To Bloom — And That’s Not a Good Thing

As a bitter cold snap hits the east coast following one of the warmest winter holidays on the record books, the flora of New York State just can’t catch a break.

Foto macro di una rosa rossa

A few weeks ago, New Yorkers were opening their presents on Christmas morning while looking out across green landscapes and, in true Upstate fashion, many a New Yorker could be spotted wearing t-shirts and shorts. The weather outside was the exact opposite of frightful — except for those who had to watch their flower gardens start to bloom in the middle of winter.

If you’re one of the 113.5 million Americans today who do gardening at some point during the year, you’ll know the acute stress and frustration of seeing the weather trick your flowers into blooming before it’s time. As the Wall Street Journal put it, early winter blooms might provide a brief respite against the dreary grayness of New York in the winter, but it makes for a halfhearted and disappointing spring season of new blooms.

When flowers at the New York Botanical Garden began opening at the end of December, Gothamist aptly noted that horticulture experts are actually pretty worried.

According to Todd Forrest, the Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections, the entire ecosystem gets confused when New York State’s weather tries to skip over winter.

Not only will flowers not bloom in the spring if they began opening in December, but the winter blooms will certainly be killed off when the cold weather comes back. New growth will be entirely destroyed, and this will make older parts of the plants more vulnerable to drought, insects, and even diseases. Cold winter weather acts as a “reset” button when it comes to pathogens that attack plants, and without a full winter season to kill off those pests, the springtime will only yield a greater number of insects.

Not all plants were tricked into blooming early, as the New York Times noted; it’s the combination of warm soil and warm air temperatures that allow plants to gain more energy through photosynthesis and send new roots through the earth. But with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees during a record-breaking hot flash of a Christmas, a lot of plants throughout the state got confused.

Of course, winter has finally decided to show up, and within a matter of days, all that healthy flora was frozen and killed off in sub-freezing temperatures.