Some Vt. Trees Mysteriously Blooming Like it's Spring

Some homeowners and gardening enthusiasts in parts of Vermont have reported an unusual sight for late October: trees or shrubs that are flowering, as if it were spring.

"This is abnormal," said Brian Mitchell of Gardener’s Supply, pointing to the bright yellow blooms of azaleas for sale at the Williston business. "They’re being tricked into opening, like if it were spring."

There was a similar sight at the University of Vermont Horticulture Farm in South Burlington, where some of next year’s buds on a crabapple tree are already open, prematurely.

"It’s an oddity," said UVM researcher Terry Bradshaw.

Bradshaw said after struggling through a hot and dry summer, some shrubs and trees had basically gone to bed early for the winter.

That is, he said, until easier conditions recently returned, and they forced out some flowers.

"It’s been a stressful year," Bradshaw said of the weather conditions for trees, pointing to a bloom on a crabapple tree. "With the cold and wet spring, and the warm and hot and dry summer, and now a frostless fall—that really added up to confuse these trees quite a bit."

Michael Page, a meteorologist for necn and NBC Boston, said the late-October blooms are just the latest examples of a weird weather month for much of the Champlain Valley.

The Burlington area is running about 10 degrees above average, Page said, with particularly warm nighttime temperatures.

"It actually may end up being warmer than May," Page noted. "That has only happened four times in recorded history in the Champlain Valley, just to give you a sense of how unusual it is."

Back at the farm, Bradshaw said he does not believe fruit crops in 2018 will be affected by this fluky stretch.

He said well-managed commercial orchards should be just fine, despite a few mistimed flowers.

Additionally, Bradshaw said long-term, most backyard trees or shrubs should see no ill effects from the odd sight of blossoms flowering in late October. However, he said some trees that have already been sick might become weaker through the premature opening of buds.

NBC 5 contributed to this report.

Contact Us