UT Botanical Gardens official expects hot weather to impact fall colors


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – So many around the region are eager for fall and the changing colors the season brings with it. The fall foliage is always a staple around East Tennessee, whether it’s in the beauty of the Smokies, or even the tree in your own backyard.

It’s not quite time yet to start seeing those vibrant oranges and reds, but we wanted to know when — or if — we will. WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel turned to an expert to find out.

The director of the University of Tennessee Botanical Gardens, Dr. Sue Hamilton, said she thinks the unseasonably hot weather we’ve been experiencing will make an impact on fall colors.

It has been unusually hot recently, with high temperatures in the low to mid 90’s and little to no rain. That’s why Dr. Hamilton thinks this is not looking like the best fall color season.

“If this keeps up, I think it will be short-lived and the colors just won’t be near as colorful or as bright as we’re used to seeing, as vibrant as we’re used to seeing,” said Dr. Hamilton.

Dr. Hamilton said plants are stressed right now, without enough water for them to take in.

She also said they need cool nights, unlike the ones we’ve been having, to reflect the vibrant fall colors we expect.

“So when they can slow that metabolism down by cooler night temperatures, that’s where you get an accumulation of the sugars that really translates into fabulous flowers, fabulous colors in the leaves, and right now we’re exhausting that reserve,” said Dr. Hamilton.

(Photo: WATE)

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