Seasonal phenological dynamics of vegetation hold important clues on ecosystem performance towards management goals, such as carbon uptake, and thus should be considered in projections of their targeted services. However, in wetlands spatio-temporal heterogeneity due to mixing of open water, soil, green and dead vegetation makes it difficult to generalize ecosystem functioning across different regions. Remote sensing observations can provide spatially-explicit, cost-effective phenology indicators; however, little is known about their capacity to indicate the links between wetland ecosystem structure and function. Here we assessed this potential by comparing one-year Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) from satellite products at high (5m; RapidEye) and low (30m; Landsat) spatial resolutions with eddy covariance time series of net carbon exchange, field digital camera (phenocam) greenness and water temperature among three floristically similar restored wetlands in California, USA. Phenological timing differed by wetland site: depending on satellite, the range in site-median start of greening was up to 28 days, end of greening – up to 73 days, start of senescence – up to 79 days, and end of senescence – up to 10 days. Key transition dates from satellite inputs agreed with seasonal changes in net carbon exchange, phenocam greenness and water temperatures, suggesting that phenological contrasts could result in part from site differences in vegetation configuration and litter affecting the exposure of canopy, soil and water to sunlight and thus sub-canopy microclimate and ecosystem functioning. Yet, the agreement between satellite inputs was non-systematic, with the greatest disparities at the more heterogeneous, less vegetated site. Phenological model fitting uncertainty increased with greater spatial resolution, highlighting the tradeoff between the accuracy of representing vegetation and the complexity of local seasonal variation. These findings highlight the sensitivity of satellite-derived phenology to structural and functional heterogeneity of ecosystems and call for more rigorous spatially-explicit analyses to inform assessments of restoration and management outcomes.