Today is opening day for the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail

How the February freeze has dulled the annual tradition

Today is opening day for the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail
Today is the opening day for the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail and it’ll last through April 4th. (Source: KLTV)

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Today is the opening day for the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail and it’ll last through April 4th. Last year the annual event was downsized because of the pandemic and although they’re opening back up many of their events for this year, one blooming tradition won’t be the same -- the azaleas.

We spoke with East Texas Gardens Horticulturist, Keith Hansen about what people can expect for this trail season, he said “there will be very few azaleas in bloom especially at the beginning of the trail.”

Hansen adds that a few of the bulbs will begin to bloom and show color much later into trail season because of the winter freeze from February. He says even the chilly weather we’re seeing now will bring on some blooming delays.

“The azaleas for the most part are not dead, even though they look fried,” he said.

He says what’s dead on most varieties of plants is the foliage and not the plant itself. Hansen explains the snow we had from the winter storm acted as insulation around the base of the plants. This is why you can spot blooming at the ground level, but bare spuds on top.

He tells us if we were enjoying mild and warm temperatures, he says it’s likely we’d see more azaleas, but it’s difficult to predict when.

“There will be very few azaleas in bloom especially at the beginning of the trail,” said Hansen, “I would say by the end of the azalea trail we might see 5-10% bloom”

Hansen says for people at home concerned about their flowers blooming or whether the plant is dead, he showed us a trick. Gently scratch the stem of a plant and if you see green -- he says just be patient and give the plant some time to regrow.

Joan Pyron, a long time backyard garden expertise said, “it’s sad. I hate to see anything look bad, but they’re coming back!”

Pyron has watched her backyard bloom in full most years during the azalea trail season, but this year was harder than before.

“I’ve been out three days trying to find flowers to put in the yard to give it a little color since the azaleas aren’t blooming yet, she said “because there’s none.”

She says even the greenhouses don’t have a lot of flowers to choose from since many were damaged from the snow, but she’s confident this won’t stop people from enjoying the tradition.

Holli Fourniquet is the Vice President of Marketing for Visit Tyler and she says although the azaleas won’t be as beautiful, they’ve still gotten a lot of support from people who are itching to get out of the house. She said “we are expecting to see a lot of visitors even though the azaleas aren’t blooming because that’s not the only reason that people come to Tyler during the spring”

They’re encouraging people to take advantage of the driving tour as a COVID-19 precaution. To see what the azaleas look like before you make the trip-- we have a link for the Tyler Azalea Trail progress tracker on our home page in the Big Red Box.

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