Plants Adjust to Spring

Plants are adjusting to spring all around us. Multi-taskers (like humans), many trees, shrubs, and perennials are forming leaves and flowering. 

As many plants begin spring activity after dormancy, they need startup energy. Leaves use sunlight to make food. Extra energy is also required for flowering to start procreation. Plants like daffodils and tulips use stored snacks (in their bulbs) in early spring.

Timing to end dormancy and start leafing out and flowering are crucial to plants because they take in water and are vulnerable to frost damage. This region is a week past the last average frost day. Late frosts can damage leaves and fruit flowers. 

Predicting the time to leaf out and flower varies by plant species. One of the triggers to begin spring startup is enough warm days in a row. Another trigger is the lengthening of daylight.

South Dakota forester and SDSU professor Dr. John Ball recently remarked that Cornelian Cherry trees at McCrory Gardens in Brookings are blooming the latest he has seen them this year. Changing climate adds more stress to plants. Plants will try to adapt. Plants require extra energy, disruptions can occur with pollinators, and plants are more vulnerable to pests and disease.

Locally, lilac shrubs (Syringa vulgaris) are one of the markers of spring. 

Nearing full bloom now, some of last year’s lilacs bloomed over a week earlier.

Hellebore in the foreground is more often in bloom by early April. This year, it and Bleeding Hearts’ pink flowers bloom together.

Tomato seedlings have grown indoors under light and now, in an unheated greenhouse, awaiting a favorable time to harden them off and plant them soon.

Swiss Chard (pictured) and Kale are growing for harvest in an unheated greenhouse this spring. Spinach has not been as favorable so far this season. All plants are adjusting to spring this season, given the challenges.

Thanks for your visit. We invite you to comment about plants adjusting this spring in your setting.

5 thoughts on “Plants Adjust to Spring

  1. Plants from harsher climates seem to adjust more efficiently. Plants from milder climates do not recognize the risks associated with the potential for sudden changes in spring weather. Cannas are silly like that. They easily survive frost, although without their foliage, since they live at high elevations in tropical regions. However, they do not recognize defined season, so respond to frost whenever it happens. They try to grow immediately after cool winter weather, so sometimes get frosted again prior to the last frost. Of course, they do not care. They just keep going.

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