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Warm Temperatures Wake Up Plants in High Country, Tricked Into Thinking It’s Spring?

With the warm temperatures, plants think it’s springtime. They will be in for a shock in several days as temperatures are expected to reach low 20’s and even the teens. Photo by Ken Ketchie


By Jesse Wood

The unseasonably mild temperatures are triggering some plant life in the High Country to come out of dormancy – rather than just shutting down before waking back up in the spring.

“Yesterday, I was digging around and some of the day lilies are already starting to go,” Paige Patterson, horticulture agent at the Watauga County Cooperative Extension.

Depending on the plant and also wether it’s a cool season or warm season plant, the 20-degree temperatures expected next weekend could damage buds, preventing them from opening in the spring.

For example, big leaf hydrangea buds that have opened would be damaged by the cold snap, Patterson said, and wouldn’t bloom in the summer. They won’t die however.

“They will grow back out from the base near the ground, depending on the ‘cultivar’ they may still produce flowers,” Patterson said, adding that white Hydrangeas, which are “ubiquitous to the local landscape … are very hardy and should be unaffected.”

She noted that the irises photographed below will have their lives killed but should otherwise bloom.

“It just kind of depends on the plants,” Patterson said.

Check out the photographs below.