Nacogdoches azaleas budding on time, could boost tourism - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Nacogdoches azaleas budding on time, could boost tourism

Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff

Nacogdoches is known as the Azalea capital of Texas, and this year's unusually wintry weather has flowers budding right on time.

However, that wasn't the case in 2017.

"Last year was really unusual, it was the warmest winter on record," said David Creech, a professor and director of the Ruby Mize Azalea Gardens at Stephen F. Austin State University.

However, a complete transformation took place this year and it has to do with chill hours.

"So last year, we had 375 hours less than 45 degrees and that's kind of a benchmark we use. Normally we get 650 [hours]. This winter we have about a 1,050 hours," Creech said.

Those chill hours are three time the amount more and that means the azaleas will put on a show. As a result, this means an increase in tourism for Nacogdoches, potentially drawing hundreds of people, according to the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"Our website is getting a lot of hits. In fact, I checked this morning and at our numbers and within the last seven days we have gotten 700 hundred unique page visits," said Stephanie Fontenot. "So we have everyday 100 prospective visitors going to our website."

With the mild winter last year and the early blooms, many tourist walked away with no show.

"Our visitors who came were disappointed in many case because the color was already gone which was a real unusual year," said Mike Bay, the visitors center coordinator. "The weather is better this year and it's going to be more of a normal bloom, I think."

This season broke the cycle of the early blooms and kept the season on track.

"Keep in mind that we have 500 to 600 variety of azaleas, some bloom early, some mid, some late, so I'm looking at the mid-season being end of March," Creech said.

That is, of course, if there are no more hard freezes or low temperatures Creech said.

Experts said all of the azaleas will bloom within 10 days to two weeks.

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