Phenology

Published On: February 24th, 2024


Phenology is the study of interconnected seasonal natural phenomena.

On February 25th my friend Amy excitedly announced that she had seen her first Red Winged Blackbirds of the season. She and I both took a moment to bask in the anticipation of warm weather that the appearance of these birds heralded. Spring is on the way when Red Winged Blackbirds return from their seasonal migration. This is a Phenological observation.

What is Phenology

Phenology is the study of interconnected seasonal natural phenomena, particularly the predictive relationship between climate, plants, and animals. It is a combination of meteorology and ecology that looks at the relationship between naturally occurring events and how they correspond with one another, regardless of specific calendar dates.

As our climate changes we may rely more on these phenological observations than actual calendar dates to plan our garden activities, particularly in the springtime.

Phenology and Garden Planning

Here are just a few of the tried & true phenological observations that have relevance for gardeners in our area:

  • When Crocus blooms, plant radishes and spinach
  • When Forsythia blooms, plant peas, onion sets and lettuce
  • When the first leaves come out on the Lilac, plant beets, carrots, cole crops, and chard
  • When the Oak leaves are the size of squirrel’s ears, plant corn
  • When the first dandelions bloom, plant potatoes
  • When Maple trees leaf out, start planting perennials
  • When Apple blossom petals drop, plant beans
  • When Lilacs are in full bloom, plant tender annuals, cucumbers, and squash
  • When Lily-of-the-Valley blooms, transplant tomato seedlings to garden
  • When Bearded Iris bloom, transplant peppers and eggplant
  • When Peonies bloom, plant watermelon and cantaloupe
When Lilacs are in full bloom, plant tender annuals, cucumbers, and squash

By Zannah Crowe