It's been feeling a lot like spring in N.S. this month. Plant experts say not to worry

Horticulturalist Niki Jabbour says a period of cold temperatures could damage buds on shrubs that normally flower in the spring. (Niki Jabbour - image credit)
Horticulturalist Niki Jabbour says a period of cold temperatures could damage buds on shrubs that normally flower in the spring. (Niki Jabbour - image credit)

Some Nova Scotians are reporting early buds on shrubs and bulbs sprouting after a relatively warm winter, but experts say there's no reason for local gardeners to worry.

Donna Evers, an avid gardener in Hammonds Plains, said it's just nature taking its course and there isn't much that can be done about it.

"There's not very much you can do about the blooms on shrubs," Evers said. "They'll still bloom. It'll be minimal damage."

Most bulbs should be fine, Evers said, but it is usually a good idea to cover them with a bit of mulch to provide a layer of protection.

Niki Jabbour
Niki Jabbour

With all the moisture that's in the ground, Evers said a deep freeze in the coming weeks would concern her as it has caused some of her more expensive bulbs to rot in the past.

Prolonged cold temperatures

A long spell of very cold temperatures is also a concern to gardening expert Niki Jabbour, a frequent contributor to CBC Radio's Mainstreet Nova Scotia.

Jabbour said a "dramatic freeze" could damage buds appearing on shrubs that flower in early spring, like lilac or forsythia, but said she doesn't see a lot of problems arising from the mild weather for now.

She said she isn't worried about tulip, daffodil and crocus bulbs and thinks they'll be "just fine."

She said if people are concerned about their bulbs or fresh growth on tender perennial plants they can add a layer of leaves, straw or evergreen boughs to protect them.

Jabbour said there isn't much that can be done to protect the buds of shrubs that normally flower in the spring. If the buds get damaged from a blast of cold weather it might result in fewer flowers in spring, or no flowers at all.

Temperature not only factor

Summer flowering plants are not a concern, she said, as they produce their flower buds from new wood.

Melissa Friedman/CBC
Melissa Friedman/CBC

Jabbour said temperature is just one factor that leads to plants coming out of their dormancy. Other factors like daylight hours also play a role, she said.

"Most of the plants we grow here in our gardens are very winter-hardy," she said.

After decades of tending to her garden, Evers is philosophical about the possibility of a long period of cold ahead.

"I wish it didn't happen, but I realize there's nothing I can do about it, so I don't get overly concerned," she said.  "What's going to happen is going to happen."

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