Do April Showers Really Bring May Flowers?

The phrase, “April showers bring May flowers “ has been around for centuries. It is derived from a poem called A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry, written in 1557 by Thomas Tusser, an English poet and farmer. This old adage, however, does not necessarily hold true in the northeastern United States.

Coming on the heels of the snowy months of winter, April typically produces more rain than snow. Many people, therefore, consider it a rainy month. Since water is necessary for the overall survival of plants, they also associate it with the bloom of flowers in May. Nevertheless, according to botanists, perennials – the plants that go dormant in winter and re-grow in the spring – are more dependent on the soil moisture derived from winter snowmelt and the long-term local precipitation pattern.

In the end, though, temperature is the most significant factor in determining when a flower will bloom. As soon as the weather becomes more spring-like, flowers will start to blossom, regardless of how much it rained in April or whatever the prior month was. That said, a “false spring” – a warm spell that triggers flowering but is followed by a hard frost – can kill the fragile blooms.

It is also worth noting that while April is a wet month for many places in the US, it is not always the wettest. Here in New York City, it ranks second. July takes the top spot, because of the downpours associated with its strong summer thunderstorms.

Spring Peonies. Credit: Melissa Fleming

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About Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming is an environmental communicator and visual artist working at the intersection of art and science. She is passionate about exploring, learning, and sharing information about the natural world. She has presented her interdisciplinary work in a variety of mediums at venues and conferences around the world.