Unusually wintry weather enhances some bloom.

Some gardens continue to recover from the exceptionally wintry weather of last winter. Frost damaged some plants, and killed a few. Wind damaged trees. Excessive rain caused erosion and saturation. This collectively unpleasant weather inhibited some from maintaining their gardens. Yet, some plants that require vernalization are performing splendidly.

It seems like an odd juxtaposition. Bloom of some plants is so unusually robust amongst remaining weather damage. Some bloom is noticeably late while most is precisely on schedule. It is not so odd to the plants who seem to behave so oddly though. Whether they appreciate vernalization or dislike frost, they respond to the weather.

Vernalization is merely attainment of sufficient chill to convince plants that it is winter. Many plants that are endemic to climates with cooler winters appreciate such reminders. It initiates their dormancy and resets their respective schedules. They know that subsequently warmer weather initiates their growing or seed germination season.

Plants that are endemic to climates with mild winters are less reliant on vernalization. Some of such plants are vulnerable to frost. Canna are tropical plants from mountainous regions that sometimes experience frost. They die back harmlessly if frosted, and remain dormant until safely warmer weather. They react to chill, but do not require it seasonally.

Spring bulbs, forsythia and flowering cherries have already bloomed atypically boldly. Later flowering cherries, as well as purple leaf plum, lilac and wisteria continue to do so. Peonies are likely to bloom better than typical a bit later. They are rare locally because of their reliance on typically unreliable vernalization.

Some cultivars of apple and pear are likewise unreliable within locally mild climates. Those that normally perform well here may perform better this year. After early warmth to initiate bloom, stone fruit bloom can succumb to late frost. Last winter though, frost was continuous enough to delay bloom until after the last frost. Extra vernalization may instead enhance production.


6 thoughts on “Vernalization Enhances Bloom And Growth

  1. And have you ever noticed if a cooler winter has an effect on the seed production of trees? In our climate, every few years we get what they call a ‘mast’ year, usually after a particularly dry summer previous, where more acorns, fir cones, chestnuts etc are produced than usual. I think we may see it happen again this year… the pollen will be a nightmare!

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    1. Oh yes, most definitely. However, the coast live oak, which is the most prominent oak here is not quite as responsive to cool winters as other species. Exotic species that are endemic to less mild climates seem to be more responsive. However, although it does not respond to every unusually cool winter, the coast live oak, on very rare occasion, produces an overwhelming abundance of acorns. It corresponds to the overabundance of acorns by other oaks, which is in response to cool winter weather. Supposedly, it prefers to limit the squirrel population, and then, on very rare occasion, produces many more acorns than the squirrels and crows can consume.

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      1. What I meant to say is that the coast live oak produces a major abundance of acorns when other oaks do the same, but does not do so every time the other oaks do the same. In other words, the other oaks may do it every few years, after a particularly harsh winter, but the coast live oak may do it only once every ten to twenty years.

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      2. Yes, the oaks here behave similarly, except for the coast live oak, which is synchronous with only one of four or five or six mast years. Most of what we grew at the farm was under saran, which collected the acorn from the oaks around the edges.

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