Horticulturists Bemoan the Climate Change Effects on Plant Life

Plant enthusiasts across Philadelphia have raised the alarm over the state’s temperature and its impact on plant life.
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Plant enthusiasts across Philadelphia have raised the alarm over the state’s temperature and its impact on plant life.

Speaking with 6ABC Action News, Lucy Dinsmore, a Horticulturist at Philadelphia-based garden Azalea Meadow, explained that plants blooming coupled with a rapidly warming temperature has resulted in the reduction of snow cover and an increase in rain.

All of this, as she explained, could exacerbate erosion and lead to many more problems.

Changing Climates Affecting the Life Cycle of Plants

Plant enthusiasts across the state have also decried the effects of environmental change and the seeming lack of cold temperatures. Diane Donaldson, a local gardener, explained that she majorly plants spring bulbs, which requires a hard freeze before sprouting.

In the absence of those ideal temperatures, these bulbs could come up prematurely and die when the ideal environment is absent.

Dinsmore further explained that the problem has gone beyond the primary casualty. It’s now affecting the state’s pollinators, like flies, bees, and other animal pollinators being out of sync with the new temperatures and plant cycles.

“The bugs and the insects are supposed to be dormant right now and kind of storing their reserves for the coming season,” she explained. “So, what I’m concerned is, ‘are they going to get all active now and if it’s going to get cold again, what’s going to happen to them?’”

The effects of the increased warming have been one of the latest impacts of climate change, and given its unprecedented nature, horticulturists have resigned to learning more in a bid to adapt.

All Talk, No Action on Climate Change

In an analysis conducted last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) drew a map that showed how “plant hardiness” zones have changed over the past 40 years and how they could change in the future.

The zones- which are primarily based in the coldest temperatures of the year at each location- help gardeners and horticulturists decide which plants can thrive, and those at the risk of dying due to the winter cold.

How plant hardiness zones have moved over the past four decades, Source.

How cold would it be in winter, is an important factor that could determine plants’ survival levels each year, along with other factors such as soil type, precipitation, and light.

The Department of Agriculture also has a map that functions as the official standard for determining what to plant. However, that doesn’t tell you much about climate change. The maps from the NOAA were intended to answer the climate question with great accuracy. Data from the past decade have shown that the period is the warmest on record across the world.

Still, not much progress is being made to combat the growing problem of climate change. In the face of protests at various parts of the world and greater calls for action, it’s evident that climate change has become a more pressing issue. Greta Thunberg, a climate change activist, was even named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.

Regardless, little action has been taken. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts introduced the Green New Deal. The congressional resolution’s goal is to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels in favor of environmentally sustainable alternatives. But the bill failed to move forward as it couldn’t secure the necessary vote at Capitol Hill.

Natural interest, competition, and the profit motive of businesses have so far kept decisive climate change policies from being implemented, and despite the protests of key experts and players in the sciences and agricultural fields, it’s highly unlikely that much will be done.

Robin Watson

Robin owns his own Landscape Gardening company based in the UK and has over 10 years professional experience working outdoors, creating beautiful landscapes for his clients in the UK. He is also a keen garden-grower and maintains his own fruit and vegetable gardens. He also has a level 3 Certificate in Practical Horticulture from The Royal Horticultural Society and is currently working on his first book about gardening. Contact him at

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