Azaleas blooming too early this time of the year

Azaleas blooming too early this time of the year
Azalea buds at the Ruby M. Mize garden. (Source: KTRE)
Azalea buds at the Ruby M. Mize garden. (Source: KTRE)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches is known as the azalea capital of Texas, but the recent rise in temperatures has caused the flowers to bloom early.

Experts are concerned about the confusion this causes the flowers which are not supposed to bloom until spring.

"It is an unusual year. It's been exceptionally mild except for two or three weeks ago we had that extremely hard freeze and that kind of was a shock to some of the plants," said Dr. David Creech, PhD, the director of the gardens at Stephen F. Austin University.

Indeed, it's surprising to see the buds of these flowers come so early in the year.

"Well we're in a garden now in the first part of February, and we're seeing quite a bit of bloom that's beginning, and I'm suspecting that we're 10 to 14 days ahead of most years," Creech said.

The Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau sees thousands of people coming for the main attraction.

"It's our most popular time of the year for visitors. They love to come and see the azaleas. They're absolutely stunning in the residential areas and of course the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden being a focal point of our azalea season," said Sherri Skeeter, the marketing director with the CVB.

It because of the rise in temperatures that's causing confusion to the flowers to bloom early, according to Creech.

"It's not that devastating for azaleas, they're very cold resistant, but this heat we've had - you feel it today because the blooms come out," Creech said.

As temperatures in East Texas are prone to higher degrees, experts are seeking alternative solutions but they say they can't prevent early blossoms.

"Right now, if this weather continues, we're going to be in pretty serious bloom around the first of March, and usually, our show is mid-March to the end of March," Creech said.

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