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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - April 06, 2014

From: Elmendorf, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Shrubs
Title: Age before blooming of a Fendler rupicola from Elmendorf TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How old does a Fendlera rupicola plant have to be before it will bloom?

ANSWER:

Fendlera rupicola (Cliff fendlerbush) is a deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub in the the 6-12 ft height range. This USDA Plant Profile Map shows it does grow natively in Comal County TX just north of Bexar County, where you are, so it should be able to grow well in your area. However, the largest concentration of the plant is in the Big Bend area of West Texas. From our webpage on Fendlera rupicola (Cliff fendlerbush), here are its growing conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Igneous or limestone soils.
Conditions Comments: May become lanky; improved by pruning. Drought-tolerant."

No mention was made on the webpage of whether it was fast- or slow-growing, but we did see it classified as "slow-growing" in another document which could mean its first flowering is after several years of maturity. It is usually difficult to predict the point at which a shrub will begin to put on blooms, largely depending on weather conditions, rainfalls and sunlight.

If you want to get really technical, from the New Phytologist here is an article on "Experiments on the Juvenile-Adult Phase Change in some Woody Shrubs." If you want a non-guaranteed guess, we would say, from experience with smaller woody shrubs that by its third or fourth year in the ground the plant will probably begin to show some blooms. This will be earlier if the plant has been planted as a cutting instead of a seed.

 

From the Image Gallery


Cliff fendlerbush
Fendlera rupicola

Cliff fendlerbush
Fendlera rupicola

Cliff fendlerbush
Fendlera rupicola

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