Dormancy in Plants

Most plants in temperate regions; areas that have seasons like winter, spring; summer and fall go through a period of dormancy when conditions become unsuitable for growth and survival. In most areas dormancy occurs during the winter but dormancy will also occur when conditions become too dry for plants to survive. In the east dormancy is usually triggered by shorter days and cooler temperatures during the fall. These conditions promote bud formation, leaf fall, and the movement of water and sugars into the root system.

Evergreens do not loose their needles during this period; they instead produce enzymes that act like antifreeze which keeps their needles and cells from freezing and being damaged by the cold. This maintains the most basic of activities in the plant but it also means that evergreens can suffer winter damage if temperatures become too cold for lengthy periods of time. It is not uncommon to observe shades of yellow, brown, purple, or red in evergreen needles that are dormant. It should be noted that the root system of both deciduous and evergreen plants do not become dormant and they can continue to grow during the winter when the soil does not freeze. That is why recently planted seedlings or saplings may show a significant growth spurt during the second growing season after their root system enlarged over the winter.

The spring witnesses an increase in temperature, day length, and available water for plants. These changes trigger chemicals, called hormones, in the buds to begin activity that eventually brings the plant out of its dormant state. Our local plants are now preparing for dormancy.

Article by FCFCDB

Nature Note for 10/16/21