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Spring Bloom running ahead of schedule

As of the writing of this story we have arrived at mid-April 2021. It’s a time of year we keep track of things like “Phenology” (Phenology refers to the science focused on understanding key seasonal changes in plants from year to year). Every year is different as we depart dormancy and celebrate this thing we call Spring. Things have cooled off mid month to more normal seasonal temperatures, but warmer March and early April temperatures have advanced the landscape from where it normally is. The National Phenology Network has West Michigan running about 20 days ahead of schedule from normal “leaf out” with trees like Sugar Maple in bloom for pollinators advanced from the “normal” late April early May average. Trees like Magnolia, Juneberry, Cherries and Pears are in full bloom.

Cherry trees in bloom

Of course with that is the concern for hard frosts that damaged trees like Japanese Maples last year. They recovered but young tender foliage or blooms can be damaged by late April early May freezes. Last year we had a significant freeze event the night of May 8 and morning of May 9 when overnight freezing temperatures reached the mid 20’s.

Soil temperatures after briefly being in the 60’s have now dropped back to the low 50’s slowing turf growth and giving us time to apply crabgrass pre-emergent controls. Spring has arrived early in 2021 as the “GDD” or Growing Degree Day measurement (used by horticulturists to measure the onset of growth in plant species and emergence of insects) as of mid April 2021 is running 3 to 4 times the 4-year average.

Turf growth has begun for 2021

Lawn applications can be made at this time. Pansies can be planted as well as perennials, shrubs and trees. Cole Crops like Broccoli can be planted in the vegetable garden as well as Peas. It is recommended to wait with tender plants like Tomatoes or Peppers as examples as they need to be hardened off and planted closer to our last frost date in Southwest Michigan (generally around May 10).

Peonies emerging from the ground April 2021

Pace yourself, it’s a long growing season for us to enjoy together and we’re just getting started! Make sure to tune in the Flowerland Show weekly for updates or listen to the podcast. You can find it here:


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