Chicago, IL

Chicago set for an early spring? Flowers and trees blooming weeks early across the US

Jennifer Geer

Peak bloom time varies each year, according to the Morton Arboretum. But this could be a very early bloom season for Chicago.

(CHICAGO) After a long winter, it's refreshing to see the first green buds of spring arrive on a barren landscape. And this year, the signs of spring may arrive early.

Some areas in the South and Southeast are having their earliest spring on record. And Chicago is on track for a spring that is weeks early, according to experts at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

Is an early bloom season coming to Chicago?

In a press release from the Arboretum, Christy Rollinson, Ph.D., forest ecologist at the Arboretum explained,

“Right now, we’re on track for earlier spring bloom times than is typical for the Chicago region,” she said. “We’re entering a critical window where a couple of warm or cold days could create the difference between a truly early bloom season or not.”

According to the press release, spring blooming season, also called leaf-out, is being recorded as coming weeks early for central Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.

The science behind blooming plants

Rollinson explained that trees and plants know spring has arrived through various signals. These can include longer days, warmer temperatures, more sunlight, and moisture from spring rains. This triggers hormones that cause the plants to start new growth. Buds will swell and green sprouts poke up from seeds.

But each spring is unique, and the timing of the changes will never be the same. “Every spring is a different experience for plants since the triggering factors can change every year and even every day during the season,” Rollinson said. “Even plants of the same species may not bloom at the same time if they’re in different locations.”

When will blooming spring flowers peak this year?

The exact timing is hard to predict. However, in spring, the Arboretum releases its weekly Spring Bloom Report, which gives visitors to the Arboretum an idea of where the most show-stopping blooms can be found that week.

What to watch for and when at the Arboretum?

If you're planning a visit to the Arboretum, Rollison predicts the mid-season blooms should begin in mid-April. These include daffodils, tulips, and yellow hyacinths. In May, the late-season blooms begin, such as crabapple and magnolia trees.

According to Rollison, anytime is a good time to visit the Arboretum, “There’s always something different blooming along the trails and in the gardens, and it’s always beautiful.”


The Morton Arboretum is located at 4100 Illinois Route 53 in Lisle. Check out their website for more information.


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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area.

Chicago, IL

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