In boreal and temperate ecosystems, temperature signal regulates the reactivation of growth (bud break) in perennials in the spring. Molecular basis of temperature-mediated control of bud break is poorly understood. Here we identify a genetic network mediating the control of bud break in hybrid aspen. The key components of this network are transcription factor SHORT VEGETATIVE PHASE-LIKE (SVL), closely related to Arabidopsis floral repressor SHORT VEGETATIVE PHASE, and its downstream target TCP18, a tree homolog of a branching regulator in Arabidopsis. SVL and TCP18 are downregulated by low temperature. Genetic evidence demonstrates their role as negative regulators of bud break. SVL mediates bud break by antagonistically acting on gibberellic acid (GA) and abscisic acid (ABA) pathways, which function as positive and negative regulators of bud break, respectively. Thus, our results reveal the mechanistic basis for temperature-cued seasonal control of a key phenological event in perennial plants.