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Sunday - November 11, 2007

From: Kailua, HI
Region: Hawaii
Topic: Container Gardens, Diseases and Disorders
Title: Loss of blooms in potted plants in Hawaii
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My lanai is in strong afternoon sun and no matter what "full sun" plants I try to grow they quickly stop blooming. Plumeria, Hibiscus, Echinacea, even Bougainvillea...they continue to grow but lose all color. Is there any way to get the color back in my potted plants?


We find ourselves in an interesting dilemma. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the protection and propagation of plants native to North America. While you live in a state of the United States, you don't live in North America. We are, however, always happy to help out with questions on potted plants, most of which are not native to the area in which they are being grown, and not quibble about their genealogy.

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower), of course, is native to Texas, but apparently not to Hawaii. Since Hibiscus is the State Flower of Hawaii, I think we can safely assume that it is native to Hawaii. Plumeria is native to Mexico, Central America and Venezuela, but has spread to many tropical and sub-tropical areas, including Hawaii. The Bougainvillea is a native of the coast of Brazil, but also flourishes in warm, subtropical and tropical settings. The weblinks we have given you will all give you good information on the culture of the various plants you are concerned with.

Without too much information on culture of plants in Hawaii, we'd like to give you a few things to consider as you attempt to determine why your plants are not blooming as you would like them to. First, the soil you have the plants in-is it a good, sterilized potting soil? We know nothing at all about the soil types in Hawaii, but if you are just digging soil out of the ground for your pots, that could be causing you some problems. Second, watch the nitrogen application. Too much nitrogen in a fertilizer can really "green up" a plant, but discourages flowering. Higher phosphorus content should help with the blooming. Third, where are you buying your plants? If you're buying them from a home supply company or florist instead of a reputable nursery, you may be getting plants that have been "forced" into blooming. We have received more than one lovely, profusely blooming plant, but when we attempted to move it from the plastic pot in which it was delivered, we discovered that there was no significant root system. Those plants were never meant to last beyond the blooms they came with. And, finally, just how much sun are the plants getting? All of these plants apparently need "full sun". We usually define full sun as at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.

We realize we haven't really answered your question, but hope we have given you some avenues to explore to answer them for yourself.


Echinacea purpurea



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