Cherry and magnolia trees are blooming throughout the Delaware Valley but you may be asking why your flowers are brown and not pink. Some early blooming cultivars of cherries and magnolias have succumbed to frost damage and turned brown. As a result, they have no blooms this spring, just browned flowers.
No need to panic. Your tree is not dead. It is just a victim of unseasonably warm temperatures in February and then a return to cold temperatures in March. The warm temperatures caused early blooming cultivars like Prunus ‘Okame’ and Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ to bloom or almost come into full bloom.
Closed buds can handle the freezing temperatures but open flowers are susceptible. Unlike some plants such as witchhazels and crocus whose blooms can withstand a cold snap and dip below freezing, the open flowers of most cherries and magnolias are not as resilient. The frost has destroyed their seasonal display.
The good news is your tree is fine and will leaf out in another week or two. Barring another late winter/early spring major temperature swing, you will enjoy another “pink” spring with your cherry tree next year.
If you have planted early and late bloomers in your garden, you can enjoy a show no matter the volatility in temperature. While the Arboretum will not experience a show from Prunus ‘Okame’ this year, other varieties like Prunus x yedoensis are looking stunning right now in the Cherry Border. The season typically ends with the wonderful double-pink flower from Prunus ‘Royal Burgundy’. To explore all the flowering times of cherries, download the Cherry Collection brochure.
If you are looking for later blooming magnolias, consider yellow selections like: Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’, M. ‘Butterflies’, and M. ‘Golden Endeavor’.