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Climate change may be to blame as SoCal flowers bloom weeks early




Cherry blossoms are appearing on trees in Descanso Gardens in mid-February 2018 because of warmer temps. They should have burst forth in mid-March.
Cherry blossoms are appearing on trees in Descanso Gardens in mid-February 2018 because of warmer temps. They should have burst forth in mid-March.
Leo Duran/KPCC

This shouldn't be happening right now. But cherry blossoms are in bloom a month early at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge.

Tulips should be just an inch or two high, but at the moment, they are jutting up to a foot out of the ground.

It's likely happening because of climate change.

"We have many flowers blooming early," says Rachel Young, the Gardens' director of horticulture. "It's the warm weather."

Los Angeles was 4.5 degrees hotter than usual in January, according to the National Weather Service.

Tulips at Descanso Gardens are popping out of the soil, reaching upwards of a foot in mid-February 2018 because of warmer temperatures. They should have only been 1-2 inches at this time of year.
Tulips at Descanso Gardens are popping out of the soil, reaching upwards of a foot in mid-February 2018 because of warmer temperatures. They should have only been 1-2 inches at this time of year.
Leo Duran/KPCC

It's a boon for visitors who want to see as much color as possible.

"It's a great season for us for camellias because it's so warm," she says. "They're all kind of blooming together. It's kind of like a super bloom."

That comes with a trade-off, however.

"It's definitely a sign of stress," Young says. "It's really a problem for everyone in Southern California in that we will struggle to water all of the plants in our homes and gardens."

Lilacs at Descanso Gardens, for example, bloomed in the fall when they were supposed to do so in the spring. That may mean there will be less of a lilac bloom in the coming months.

Young cautions that the change in SoCal's climate could affect more plants than those at Descanso, too.

She believes the warmer temps may cause an early boom of California poppies and also affect the wildflower season.