Plants Flowering Out of Season

— Written By MaryMorgan Arrington and last updated by

The weather in Wilkes County has fluctuated dramatically over the past year, which can be very confusing to some flowering plants. First, we had an abundance of rain this spring, then a dry summer, and last, two hurricanes, bringing torrential rains. Due to the hurricanes in particular, you may notice some plants flowering or leafing out now, when they typically only bloom in spring. Simply put, our trees and shrubs are likely stressed.

cluster of azalea blossoms

“Late winter and spring flowering trees and shrubs begin to develop new flower buds for the following year after they finish flowering and during the summer when they are in full leaf. There is a complex relationship between flowering response, plant hormones and plant chemistry. Day length and temperature play an important role in when plants flower in general, and when seasons change plants respond by altering their internal chemistry and hormone levels. This is normal, but when storms come through and change the conditions directly around the plant, it can trigger an unusual response such as plants blooming out of season. The storm can lead to stress which leads to a change in the plant’s hormone levels and chemistry. Thus, plants bloom at strange times and may even produce leaves where others were lost,” as explained by Barbara Fair (Certified Arborist, NC State University).

One thing to keep in mind, if your typically spring-blooming plant is blooming now, that plant is unlikely to have many or any blooms next spring. These plants will likely put on leaves as normal in the spring. It is unlikely there would be any long-term effects on the trees or shrubs that would negatively affect the production of new leaves. Plants most likely to bloom or put on leaves out of season may include, Callery pear, cherry and other typically spring flowering trees and shrubs.