“Hello Spring, Goodbye Winter!” — Encouraging New Plant Growth

Spring is the time when people get excited about the beautiful upcoming display that their outdoor plants and flowers will soon reveal. Many of those people, however, also may notice that their beloved plants are still looking rather dead. Are they really dead? Perhaps they are still dormant? Are they just taking their time waking up from their winter slumber?

How Do Plants Know When to “Wake Up?”

Most likely, your outdoor beauties aren’t dead. After a long, cold, hard winter, they might appear dead, even though they are probably just fine. There are several cues that give plants the “green light” to break winter dormancy and wake up during the spring. The moisture from melting snow and spring rains, the warming of the soil, and the increasing amount of sunlight are all factors that plants stay tuned to, even when they’re sleeping for the winter. As your plants sense changes in these factors, they release hormones that help begin the production of stems, roots, buds, and leaves. 

It’s Spring, but My Plants Look Dead!

Just as there are many factors that signal plants to get a springtime move-on, there are also some that can give plants pause, even if it’s officially spring. Some of these causes of a delay can include:

  • A late winter or early spring frost
  • A surprise snowfall or snowstorm
  • Unseasonably cold temperatures
  • An unseasonable lack of sunlight
  • A harsher-than-usual winter

Different plants have different abilities to withstand harsh conditions, including drought and cold temperatures. Some will handle late frosts just fine, and others will put the brakes on at the first sign of overly-chilly weather. Age can affect a plant’s ability to pop up on cue in the spring, too. The older the plant, the pickier it can get regarding the warmth it wants to feel before it wakes up.

Helping Your Plants Prepare for Spring

There are several things you can do throughout the year that will help plants during the spring:

  • When the danger of frost has passed in spring, cut back withered perennial stems
  • In late fall, cut back stems and foliage, especially on prairie grasses
  • Turn over the soil in garden beds once the frost season is over
  • Water plants deeply in early spring to wash away potential salt damage
  • Examine plants, pots, and raised garden beds for cracks or damage
  • Provide a new layer of mulch for insulation around plants in the fall before winter hits

There are certain fertilizers you can use in the fall and others you can use in the spring to help ensure that your plants are ready to go once the weather turns. Our friendly team at Plants on Broadway can help you find the right ones for your plants!

Patience Is the Key

The key when perennials are slow to come up is to have patience. You’ll need to wait for more consistently warmer weather to see if your plants begin sprouting buds, leaves, or flowers. Just like people, plants can be stubborn, but they know what’s best for them, and if they just aren’t ready to get going for spring, they’ll wait! Be patient, and if you need further information about your green lovelies, visit us at