Chill helps plants differentiate between the seasons

Torch lily could bloom for fall.

The Santa Clara Valley used to be famous for its stone fruit plantations. The San Fernando Valley used to be famous for its citrus orchards. The Wenatchee area of ​​Washington is still famous for apple orchards. Many variables influence which agricultural commodities grow or have grown in each region. One of the more obvious is the temperature and the “cold”.

Citrus fruits could not be productive in the Wenatchee region because they could not survive the cold of winter there. Although productive in the Santa Clara Valley home gardens, it is not quite as productive as where winters are warmer in the San Fernando Valley. Citrus values ​​warmth, but not cold. Many tropical and subtropical plants feel the same way.

However, many of the many apple varieties that are so famous in the Wenatchee region would be unproductive in the Santa Clara Valley. Few of them could produce relatively lean in the San Fernando Valley. In contrast to citrus fruits, which do not like cold, apple trees need cold for production. Some varieties need more than others.

Many species of plants need reminders to stay on schedule.

Chill regulates the schedules of many plants originally endemic to climates with cool winters. It confirms the arrival of winter, which is an appropriate time to end one cycle of the year and begin another. Some plants require minimal cooling. Those who come from climates with severe winters require coercion by severe and persistent cold.

One of the main reasons spring onions can be planted early in the fall is because some will benefit from spending the winter in a cool, damp garden. Most onions, however, are refrigerated before being marketed. Some spring onions that have been cooled beforehand will bloom splendidly in their first season, but will bloom unsatisfactorily if the cold is not enough for them afterwards.

Most of the plants that need more cold than they can get locally are simply not available locally. However, some are available online. Some locally popular plants that are marginal to mild climates get confused by the seasons. Because of this, some flowers, such as the torch lily, bloom randomly or out of season. Daphne and some late winter flowers may bloom now and be later damaged by frost.

Highlight: torch lily

Technically, it should bloom in spring and summer. The torch lily Kniphofia uvaria does not seem to know this, however. Some bloom for late summer. Most are currently in bloom. Old-fashioned varieties that survive without watering can bloom through winter or whenever they want. Modern strains are likely to be more predictable and more punctual with their schedule.

Torch lily or glowing poker flowers with densely conical flower spikes made up of many narrow and tubular flowers. Bare stems boldly support a flower to a height of five feet. The grassy foliage below forms dense hills that shouldn’t get much higher than a meter. Established plants can survive without watering, but appreciate it because of the dry warmth of summer.

Flower buds are generally orange as they develop and then turn yellow as they bloom and age. Since flower spikes bloom from the bottom up, they are yellow at the base and orange at the top, like sweet corn. Some varieties are more reddish-orange at the top or creamy white at the base. Others are more uniformly orange, yellow or creamy white.

Gardener Tony Tomeo can be contacted at

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