WEATHER

Mild winter weather puts plants in bloom early

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2012 was the warmest year on record for the D.C. region, and 2013 is off to another mild start.

With temperatures recently in the 40s and 50s, plants are feeling the heat. Judging by the blooms at the Merrifield Garden Center, you'd think spring arrived in Washington.

Horticulturist Stephen Gable said, "Witch hazels normally bloom Feb. and March in our gardens, and they're opening up right now."

"Some of the spring-blooming Camellia are in bloom way early...earlier than I have seen them bloom in 20 years here," National Arboretum Horticulturalist Scott Aker added.

Aker said it's all thanks to the mild winter weather.

"We haven't had a really hard freeze yet...because of that, some of our perennials are already in bloom," Aker explained.

At the Merrifield Garden Center in Fairfax, people are still buying flowering plants for their homes, and that's been good for business.

Gable said, "As a horticulturist and selling plants, I can actually put more plants in the garden and have them be perennial opposed to tender plants."

With the prospect of snow in the forecast, experts say it will actually be better for the plants. It will provide a layer of insulation in case there's a bad freeze.

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