The answer is multifaceted. The weather plays an important part and on a smaller scale gardener timing and plant selection. In regards to the weather, we would be able to predict blooming if we had a normal weather trend meaning a fall with a gradual cooling with no spikes in temperature or cold snaps.
Our past late fall and winter had both extreme cold snaps and unseasonably high temperatures. November 2019 had a sudden cold snap followed by high temperatures in December. This pushes new growth or flowering buds to swell making the plants “think” it’s time to flower.
Day length also plays a part in timing of the plants to bloom. After December 20 the days begin to get longer. This coupled with the cold November and warm December and January again makes the plant think it’s time to bloom.
Spring weather plays a major part in how long the flowers will last on the Cherry Trees, tulip blooms and Japanese Magnolia blooms. If the weather is calm the blooms will last longer. If there is a lot of rain and wind the blooms will be gone or mostly gone with even one storm. Also at this time of year there is the possibility of a late frost and that would also destroy the blooms if they are already in full bloom and we receive a late frost.
The last factor on lasting bloom and when the plants will bloom is the gardeners
plant selection and timing on the planting. This mainly applies for bulbs such as the
Tulip. Bulbs come in three major categories; early, mid and late seasons. If the gardener
selects bulbs that are early blooming they are more susceptible to the weather conditions
previously described. So while late season bulbs are not the first to be seen their
flowers are going to have a longer bloom time.
Timing on planting bulbs is recommended from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. So
if the gardener planted right after Thanksgiving those bulbs will have seen an early bloom
time this year. If the gardener waited until December or January those bulbs will have remained dormant until spring.
So for the question of bloom time and longevity it is mainly up to Mother Nature. We as
gardeners have little influence other than species and planting time. Good luck and keep on gardening!
By Jeff Reynolds, MBG horticulturist