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Find out Why Your Flowering Plants aren’t Blooming

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Although some flowering plants take many years to produce their first buds they can often produce lots of leaves and no flowers. A lack of flowers can be caused by many factors. Some we can control, others we have to accept. Most often, it is related to one of these five issues.

Don’t Use Too Much Fertilizer

Although it is true that high-nitrogen fertilizers will encourage lots of green and leafy growth in your plants, this can often be at the expense or flowers. Plants need phosphorous in order to make flower buds. However, fertilizing is only one part of the picture.

Check for any other issues if your plants appear healthy. Check all conditions for signs of stress or malaise in your plants. Are they getting enough sun and water? Do you see any signs of pests or disease? What are the appearances of other plants nearby? Have you had your soil tested recently. Your soil pH will not be in a good range. This will mean that your plants won’t be able access the fertilizer. These factors all work together.

Pruning at the Wrong Times

Late-season pruning is a common reason for a shortage of flowers in shrubs and trees. Plants can be pruned late in the season to remove any buds that will not bloom next year. Forsythia, lilacs, and some hydrangeas may set their buds up a year ahead of time. This is changing as new plants are being developed that can grow on existing growth. New hydrangeas are being introduced each year that can bloom throughout the season even if they are cut while they are growing. You will need to be able to recognize when to stop pruning older trees and shrubs.

Waiting for Mature

Plants aren’t ready to flower until they have established roots and had a period of time to mature. Plants don’t bloom out of vanity. It is how they reproduce their species and requires a lot energy. Some plants, like biennials, die shortly after flowering. This is why it’s important to deadhead your plants before they have a chance to germinate.

Knowing the kind of flower you are trying to grow is helpful.

  • An annual should bloom their first year. However, it may take several months for them mature. It is possible to not see flowers until the middle or late summer.
  • Biennials, similar to hollyhocks in that they don’t usually bloom all year, then fade away soon after their second season.
  • Perennials can be bred to bloom more quickly. Large plants should be able to bloom the first year after they are planted. Even shrubs and flowering trees are designed for the impatient gardener. There are many old-fashioned varieties that still need to be settled before they can get their groove. They will soon be reliable bloomers once they have settled in.

Exposed to Sunlight and Warmth

To set buds, many flowers need at least six hours in the sun. The sun is essential for plants to photosynthesise. This is how they get the carbon dioxide and water they need and transform them into sugars to sustain themselves. They become stressed if they don’t get enough sunlight. Stressed plants will drop their flowers and buds, and then focus all of their resources on staying alive. The plant’s growth will slow down and become less dense. It will also grow taller and more gangly, and will eventually reach the sun.

The temperature also plays an important role in flowering. A flower’s ability to open is dependent on the warmth of the sunlight. This is why it is important to consider the time of day that the sun shines on your garden. Morning light is cooler. Plants that are exposed to the east may not get enough sun. Plants that need “full sunlight” will flower more in an eastern exposure. They get the hottest afternoon rays. There are some plants that can wilt in hot afternoon sunlight. Learn what your plant prefers.

Winter Damage Control

The weather can have a significant impact on your plants’ health. Because snow acts as an insulation and protects the plants, it is usually not a problem. However, cold winters without snow cover and frigid winds can cause damage to or even kill flower buds. Plants may stop flowering after a dry winter, when they go into preservation mode. However, plants can become more susceptible to fungal diseases and rot in wet springs.

If the winter is too hot, flowers that require cold temperatures to set buds or break dormancy will not get what they need. Some plants may also be able to emerge from dormancy earlier than expected, only to then be destroyed by a snowstorm or late spring frost.

Too hot, too cold, not enough cold, too wet or too dry? We can only do our best to find varieties that will thrive in our region. There will be seasons where we have to accept the inevitable.

Fun Fact

Flowering plants can benefit from snow. Snow acts as an insulator and moisture source, shielding plants from extremes in temperature and fluctuations.

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