Climte Change & Plant Flowering Times

Written by Daniel Woodley. Published to Blog on the 13th of February 2022.

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Hello, my name is Daniel Woodley, and I’m the co-owner and contributor here at DIY Gardening.

Researchers have looked at the historical flowering dates for over 400 plants and compared those to temperature measurements.

In a worrying development, they found that the average first flowering date before 1987 was May 12th, but from 1987 to 2019, it was April 16th, almost an entire month earlier.

In a statement, the researchers expressed concern at the mismatch between the flowering times of plants and the life cycles and migration habits of wildlife:

If global temperatures continue to increase at their current rate, spring in the UK could eventually start in February

Ulf Büntgen

Here are the key points of the findings:

Over 400,000 records were used from the UK’s Nature Calendar to study 406 flowering plant species in the UK between 1753 and 2019.

Herbs saw the most dramatic shift in flowering date, on average 32 days earlier than in 1987.

Location is a key factor as plants in southern sites bloomed 6 days earlier than those in northern areas.

Rising temperatures coincide with the changes in flowering times.

Like me, I’m sure that there are many other gardeners who are seeing plants grow and flower much sooner than they did in the past.

As for rising temperatures, I can recall my childhood when I used to walk on a local frozen canal every winter. My mother even told me how a friend drove his car across it when she was younger. This canal hasn’t frozen like this for over 15 years, and we can all see and feel that our winters are milder and any frosts or snow are short-lived.

Many bulbs, corms and perennials require a cooling period before establishing themselves again the following spring, and with mild winters, they simply won’t survive. 

The knock-on effect for wildlife could be catastrophic.

I encourage you to read the research paper, which can be found here.

Anyone can add an entry to the Nature Calendar.

Author: Daniel Woodley

Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.

He previously worked as a project manager and has experience in managing teams of tradespeople and landscape gardeners on both small and medium sized projects.

Daniel is also a keen gardener and enjoys growing unusual plants and tending to his lawn.

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