50 degrees…in January…in Minnesota

We have had quite a crazy season here this year so far.  The weather is not quite as I thought I would, or should be.  Not to say that I don’t like the warm, because I do enjoy warm days and not having to bundle up.   But to see this all from the plants perspective does make things a little less desirable.

Think about this: for people to get ready for the winter they get out the winter coats, gloves, boots, ice scrapers ect and are ready to go.  If it gets warm those things just sit there by the door, at at the ready,  but they dont get used unless needed.  Not bad I guess, just wait till spring arrives and put them all away again.  A little effort, and maybe a bit to trip over, but nothing compared to the needs of snow and cold- am I right?

If you are a plant winter prep is a bit different, it consists of you storing your moisture in the fall, you shutdown the growth and go into a state of stand-by, or hibernation, as the temps drop and things get cold .  You expect to stay there in that state of stand -by through the cold, frozen months of winter as snow piles around you and insulates your buds that are set for spring. You are then cued to awaken by the warmth and increased amount of sunlight as Spring arrives so you can bud and bloom and grow with spring rain.   

So what happens with warm weather bursts in winter that bring no long term promise of spring?  Plants can’t just leave winter prep by the door in case they need it again…warmth set things into motion that can’t be undone.   They are ready to bud and put forth that reserved burst of energy to grow as soon as the warmth of Spring arrives.  But if it is not Spring and they use up their energy just holding on or wasting it on budding out just for the cold to come again and kill off all that work.  Not all plants will have the endurance to survive this kind of  torture. 

Then top this off with what was a very dry fall with no real moisture since Septmeber…and no todays drizzle and flurries do not count as measurable moisture. What happens when there is little to no ground moisture form lack of fall rain and winter does not freeze the ground? Well-  it dries them out.  Evergreens cant retain their green and all plants have had added stress as they went into winter, (unless you were watering them to make up for it).  So spring moisture is more important that usual.

In conclusion don’t assume you plants are going to be just fine.  keep an eye on them and help them along with what you can do.  You cant change the weather and make your yard colder or warmer, but you can water.  So do what you can and don’t blame the plants come spring if they have a tough time. Blame it on the weather.

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