Onions sprout in Montreal in mid February

Onions sprout in Montreal in mid-February

The weather has been so mild over the past few days that flower bulbs in a flower bed in Montreal thought mid-February was the right time to bud.

“Usually, plants have limitations that prevent them from reactivating too early. But all thresholds have probably been reached here,” explains Sergio Rossi, professor of forest ecology at the University of Québec in Chicoutimi.

If he’s having a hard time formally identifying your variety from a photo at this point, it could be hyacinths, tulips, or crocuses.

Like all plants, these new shoots, which appeared in front of an imposing Westmount residence, are sensitive to several environmental factors.

“They have a calendar,” summarizes Mr. Rossi.

above zero

Plants rely on, among other things, the accumulation of cold, the duration of sun exposure, and the presence of snow on the ground to predict their emergence from the ground.

Small shoots appeared in the flower bed in front of an imposing Westmount residence on February 15.

However, in these last few days we almost believed in spring. “We measured 10.5C in downtown Montreal this Thursday evening. It’s a record for February 15, and it’s also nearly 15 degrees above normal,” said Dominic Martel, meteorologist at Environment Canada.

The temperature has been above freezing on all but one day since February 7, according to government data.

This means that the melting of the snow, combined with the warming of the soil by the sun, sent signals to the bulb, which decided to restart its growth long before the actual start of spring.

Here as elsewhere

“The problem is that there is still a risk of frost,” explains Sergio Rossi, who advises gardeners to cover their shoots with soil or loose snow to protect them.

In general, he is already noting the undeniable consequences of climate change on the life cycle of plants, both in Quebec and in his native Italy.

“Plant evolution is not going as fast as climate evolution. That’s why we’re so concerned,” he said.

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