GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After a very warm start to April, cold snaps have reared their ugly heads and are expected to have an impact on the spring color show.

The impact on the blossom or plant will be highly dependent on the micro-climate the plant is in. Snow or a cold night might impact a flowering tree differently in one town versus another. 

Steve LaWarre, vice president of horticulture at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, has been documenting when cherry trees bloom at Meijer Gardens each year and said this season, the trees have gone to blossom about a week early. 

Flowers at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on April 18, 2023.
Flowers at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on April 18, 2023.

“I try to keep track of general peak bloom of the cherries and usually we are the 25th or the 27th of April, somewhere at that last week of April that we bloom,” LaWarre said.

LaWarre said some plants are built to be heartier in the cold, like daffodils. They boast thicker stems and leaves, and have a thicker almost waxier texture.

Cherry blossoms are much more delicate. Blossoms that have spent time in the snow already begin to fade to a tissue paper-like texture. LaWarre said in general, the cold snap we’ve seen following the string of 80s will likely shorten the cherry blossom show by a few days, but by no means will it ruin the display completely.

LaWarre also said nature often takes its cues from nature. As the cherry blossoms fade, Meijer Gardens — as well as the rest of West Michigan — will begin to see the appearance of red buds and June berries.

“There is always something blooming. And I find that one of the fascinating things about Meijer Gardens is the way that that it ebbs and flows and as soon as one thing is done singing, if you will, the next thig is taking center stage,” LaWarre said.

Fruit crop farmers are planning for a freeze warning Tuesday night. Temperatures below freezing for several hours and as low as 28 degrees could pose a significant threat.

According to Michigan State Cooperative Extension Agent Jeffery Andresen, Ph.D., nothing is more detrimental to Michigan tree fruit, blueberry and strawberry farmers than big spring temperature swings, like the one West Michigan is experiencing this April. The 10-day period of very unusual warmth allowed fruit crop to become much more developed and susceptible to more damage. 

It looks like a few more cold snaps will come before the end of the month, keeping farmers busy in the fields trying to do their best to protect the early buds from below-freezing nights.