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That warm weather tease and its threat to plants

Bring a little spring indoors by cutting the branches of forsythia and other spring-flowering shrubs to force into bloom. © Yotka/Depositphotos.com

A lot of gardeners are going to be worried about their plants as we come through a week of 60 F days. The warmth will encourage daffodils and other spring bulbs to emerge from the ground and bloom, likely weeks earlier than normal.

And then the buds on spring-blooming trees and shrubs, such as redbud and lilacs, will begin to fatten up, preparing for their seasonal show. Again, this will likely be several weeks ahead of their normal schedule.

We may even see several plants blooming at the same time rather than their seasonal schedule.

As soon as normal temperatures or a cold spell return, we’ll all be concerned about any frost or freeze damage to our plants and wonder if we should do anything.

You don’t have to do anything. Mother Nature will take care of everything, so don’t fret. It’s possible some flowers may get frosted out or buds experience a freeze, but more than likely, the plants will survive to bloom again another year.

If a hard freeze threatens, consider cutting daffodils, tulips and other spring-blooming bulbs for indoor arrangements. Photo courtesy Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center

If a bunch of daffodils, tulips or other bulbs are up and budded, cut them for indoor enjoyment.

While you’re at it, snip a few branches from spring-flowering shrubs, too. Forsythia, flowering almond, pussy willow, flowering quince and others are good candidates for forcing for indoor arrangements.

When temperatures are above freezing, snip 12-18 inch long branches with swelling buds by making an angle cut. Be selective in which branches you remove so that you don’t destroy the natural form of the tree or shrub.

Strip off any leaves or buds that will be submerged and arrange the branches in a clean vase with warm water. Place in a cool location. Change the water every two or three days and wash the vase to reduce the chance bacteria or mold will develop. It may take one to three weeks for the branches to bloom.

 

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