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Southeast Regional Reports

Surprising Winter- and Spring-Blooming Plant Lookalikes

Learn the differences between doppelgängers with different bloom times

Japanese apricots blooming in winter might make you wonder if an ornamental cherry is blooming early. Photo: Paula Gross

Here in the Southeast we always have something blooming, even in the poorly named “dead” of winter. Don’t think so? Just pay a bit more attention the next time you are a passenger in a ride around your neighborhood and I bet you’ll be surprised. If you’re still building up your repertoire of plants, you might even be a little confused. You’ll spot some familiar spring colors in January or February and wonder, “Why is the forsythia blooming so early?” or “What is that cherry tree doing in full bloom now?” While some of our winters do result in early bloom, it’s more likely that you’re experiencing cases of mistaken plant identity. Rather than disappointments, these are happy accidents resulting in new plant discoveries and opportunities, sometimes obsessions. Here are three such plants that once fooled me with their seeming familiarity but puzzling heart-of-winter bloom time. I now call them…

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