Springing back early

Jan. 10, 2013 @ 04:42 PM

A burst of spring temperatures this weekend and early next week may provide High Pointers a welcome break in the middle of winter, but it might not be a blessing for plants that pop out early buds.
Temperatures in the High Point area are expected to be 20 degrees or more above normal starting this weekend. The stretch of unseasonable conditions could extend for five to six days, said Kathleen Carroll, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh.
Highs on Saturday in the Triad should top out in the upper 60s, with highs Sunday extending into the low 70s, Carroll said.
“This weekend we’re getting so warm because we’re getting a good influx of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico into our area,” she said.
The highs this weekend are significantly above mid-winter temperatures.
“The normal for this time of year is about 48 for the Triad. On Sunday, the high will be near 72,” Carroll said.
While conditions that could prompt people to wear short-sleeved shirts in mid-January might be welcome, the warmer weather could threaten some plants and shrubs.
Two or three days of warmer-than-normal temperatures shouldn’t have a dramatic effect on hibernating plants.
“But if it lasts for a week, that might be long enough to encourage some plants to try to bloom sooner than they should. They’re thinking it’s spring,” said Jessica Proctor, assistant in the tree and shrub department at Price Nursery Inc. in High Point.
If blooms of a spring plant open early, when colder winter temperatures return, the buds could be lost for the upcoming growing season.
“Some of those spring blooming plants aren’t going to bloom as heavily in spring because their buds are burned,” Proctor told The High Point Enterprise.
Gardeners also should be aware of the need to water recently planted shrubs during warmer temperatures in winter, she said.
“If they have newly planted anything, they need to check it. If you planted a shrub in December, hoping they would root without the stress of the warm weather, you might need to water more than you were before in the cooler weather,” Proctor said.
The burst of spring conditions should taper off through next week, Carroll said. Highs should return to more seasonable mid-50s by next Thursday, she said.

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528