Changing weather means trouble for blooming plants

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Cold temps could kill growth (WTVD)

Buds are popping up on the branches of many trees in the Triangle. Many apricot, cherry, and magnolia trees are among those that are blooming courtesy of the record warmth central North Carolina experienced during the month of December.

The National Weather Service in Raleigh reported that December's average temperature of 56.1 degrees was the warmest on record, averaging two degrees above the previous record of set in 1889.

Although plants like daphnes and mahonias typically bloom mid-winter, the blooms were accelerated this year due to the mild start.

According to Homewood Nursery manager Steven Brown, plants do best when there is a gradual cool down.

"It's as much of a shock to the plants as it is to us," Brown said. "But basically the plants have not had a chance to get used to the cold weather. We haven't really had a good cool spell until now, so they are having to quickly adjust."

Brown says most vegetation has an innate ability to weather the temperature changes without too much damage.

"We get a lot of people calling this time of year when they see their daffodils coming out of the ground, and the daffodils are coming fast," Brown said. "But don't worry about the daffodils. They are going to be fine. Everything in nature knows how to take care of itself."

Although most plants will be fine, there are still a few hybrids that are very sensitive to extreme changes. Brown also offered a few tips to keep your tender plants safe this week as temperatures dip into the lower 20s.

"You can cover small plants with blankets and buckets. You can use your Christmas lights that may still be sitting around that you haven't taken down. Use them around your plants because they actually do create a little bit of warmth," Brown said. "For larger plants like trees there is not much you can do. Any exposed blooms that are actually open are probably going to freeze tomorrow night and tonight."

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