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Breaking Bud: Phenology at Springmoor

By: Thom Morgan, Springmoor Landscape Manager
My interest in phenology–the life cycle of plants and animals—has led me to document bloom times for a variety of trees and shrubs found on Springmoor’s beautiful 43-acre campus. Today, I’m sharing my research with my fellow gardeners so you can watch out for blooms in your own back yards.
Raleigh, North Carolina, residents and those who live in the Triangle can expect to see a number of trees and shrubs “break bud” this month as our climate continues to treat us to bursts of color earlier than what our northern friends witness.

Thom Morgan

Thom Morgan, Springmoor landscape manager

Here is a list of trees and shrubs that are winter bloomers and should be “breaking bud” soon, along with their earliest, and latest dates of the year they were observed.

  •  Flowering Quince: Earliest: December 6   Latest: February 26
  • Star magnolia: Earliest: January 13    Latest: March 8
  • Forsythia: Earliest: February 12   Latest: February 19
  • Red maple: Earliest: January 7       Latest: March 11
  • Saucer magnolia: Earliest: February 26 Latest: March 22
  • Flowering apricot:     Earliest: December 12   Latest: February 18
  • Winter Jasmine: Earliest:     January 21        Latest: February 21
  • Chinese Mahonia: Earliest: January 10     Latest: January 20

Some of these plants have bloomed earlier in recent years, for example the red maples January 7 first bloom was in 2013, and its latest was 2005. But the flowering apricot did the opposite: its earliest first bloom was 2009, while its latest was in 2011. The Chinese Mahonia still has not bloomed as of this Jan. 28 writing.
February Gardening To- do list:
Plant late winter/ early spring vegetables: We sometimes catch a break from winter, and the soil temperatures warm up enough to plant early season vegetables.
Spinach, snow peas, and red potatoes can be planted when soil temps reach 45 degrees; carrots need a slightly warmer soil temperature at 50 degrees. How do you know your soil temperature? Most garden centers sell soil thermometers, or can buy one online. You can also check online for general temperatures by searching “Soil Temperature Maps for North Carolina.” CRONOS gives a county-by-county breakdown.

Star Magnolia

Star Magnolia

Valentine’s Day: While everyone else is worried about buying roses, all gardeners know that this is a good time to fertilize your roses with something like Rose Pride by Bayer. It has nutrients roses like, plus an insecticide which waits inside the plant, ready for the aphids in spring.
Fertilize newly planted trees, and shrubs with 10 10 10 or 8 8 8 fertilizer—and do this once per month through August.
Did you know that Springmoor has a great community garden? For more information about how you can continue gardening after moving to Springmoor, call us at 919-848-7080.



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