Connecticut Garden Journal: Warm Winter Weather | Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Garden Journal: Warm Winter Weather

Dec 24, 2015

The cyclic warming of the Pacific ocean is particularly strong this winter.

“I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..." Yes, dreaming seems like the best we'll be able to do this Christmas.

A white Christmas in Connecticut normally has about a 50/50 chance of occurring, with less chance along the shore and more a likely chance in the Northwest hills. But this winter the chance is nil, and it won't even be cold! 

The culprit is El Niño. This cyclic warming of the Pacific ocean is particularly strong this winter. The result is warmer than usual temperatures for the Northeast. And it's projected to last into late winter. 

Being a gardener, you might be wondering: how is this warm weather is effecting our plants?

I've seen garlic tops growing, bulb shoots poking through the soil, and even stray forsythia flowers blooming.


Although this is unusual, it's not a problem and they won't continue to grow. Plants are in a physiological phase of dormancy that was caused by the shortening and cooling days in fall. They stay in this phase until January or so depending on the plant. Then they stay dormant until spring due to the cold weather. 

Credit Jessica Lucia / Creative Commons

So a bigger concern is, if in February and March we get a stretch of warm weather, flowers and shoots may start to emerge. Early bloomers such as apples, strawberries, and magnolias are particularly susceptible. A late freeze in April could kill blooms and reduce flowering and fruiting. 

There's not much we can do about the weather, but to protect flowers, trees, and shrubs from an early awakening, mulch the soil with bark mulch to keep it cool and slow down their growth. 

Merry Christmas. Next week, I’ll be talking about terrariums. Until then, I’ll be seeing you in the garden.