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Weather is a key factor in their growth responses. Many temperate zone plants mark time with environmental cues. When the number of hours of sunlight begin to get shorter and temperatures begin to cool a bit, that means winter is on its way-a cue to plants that they should begin preparing for dormancy. And when the hours of daylight begin to increase and temperatures get warmer, plants begin preparing to wake up for spring.
But when the weather patterns fall out of this norm, cold in winter and warm in spring, the internal time-keeping mechanisms of plants get confused. This past winter, we were abnormally warm and wet, with a lot of cloudy days. To many of our fall-blooming plants, this weather seemed more like Autumn than spring, and so they thought it was their normal flowering time. I noticed lots of fall asters blooming around town. If your fall-blooming plants bloomed this spring and you'd like to encourage them to bloom again in the fall, be sure to give them a good shearing to remove the spent blooms and encourage new buds to form. They'll likely stop blooming over the summer, but when our nights start to cool a bit and our days begin to get shorter, they should fall back into their normal autumn-blooming habit.