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No, we didn’t get our white Christmas. Temperatures are still making up their minds about winter’s arrival, but for the most part, December felt more like April. Some folks in Georgia relish the spring-like weather we’ve enjoyed this season. Others prefer the cold snap we’ve seen this January. But many are simply wondering: what does this mean for my garden?

Winter Bloom

flower and dewDespite a few cold weekends, the South (and indeed, much of the country) has experienced one of the most unseasonably warm winters in history. Plants that typically go dormant in November still show signs of life, while winter-bloomers act decidedly oddly. Many spring-blooming perennials have already burst into bloom, thinking the calendar is well into May. If your trees, shrubs, flowers, or bulbs bloom this winter, enjoy it. Most bloom only once a year, so you’ll have to wait until spring 2017 for their next show. Likewise, fall-planted bulbs need 8 to 10 weeks of cold weather to grow properly. Unless we get a solid winter through March, don’t expect irises, tulips, or daffodils to sprout this year.

Winter Damage after Warm Weather

The trouble with unseasonably warm winters is that plants don’t enter dormancy. When faced with cold snaps (like the freezing-temperatures we’ve experienced this January), they’re more susceptible to winter damage. The water in the leaves and stems of broadleaf evergreens are likely to explode, damaging the interior structure of the plants. Trees — especially young ones — may develop sunscald when warm weather suddenly freezes. Unfortunately, there’s not much gardeners can do to protect plants from a warm winter. Insulation and careful tending can only go so far. Keep an eye on your garden this winter. If your trees and flowers don’t bloom come spring, you’ll know the reason why.

When the weather is giving gardeners trouble, there are still dozens of ways to make the garden vibrant: Miniature gardening, hardscaping elements, garden ornaments, and indoor planters and terrariums to name a few. Visit Autumn Hill Nursery for winter color, gardening supplies, and expert advice on how to care for plants during a warm winter.

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