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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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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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Wednesday - May 20, 2009

From: Rochester, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Failure to bloom of 4-year-old redbud in Rochester, NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I planted a redbud four years ago and it still hasn't flowered - it does get the lovely leaves. When I planted it it was only an 18 inch stick. How long before it will bloom or is something wrong?

ANSWER:

Generally speaking, plants bloom when they are good and ready, and we don't have much luck predicting when that will be. Plants need to bloom, and therefore to set seed, in order to propagate themselves, so you have to know the tree will bloom at some point. If you have not detected any insect problems or signs of disease, there probably isn't anything wrong. One caution, careful with the fertlizer. Trees native to an area, as Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud) is to New York, ordinarily don't even need to be fertilized, and you should avoid the high nitrogen fertilizers, like lawn food. These are formulated to make the plant green, which is what you want from grass. The problem is, that same formulation can deter blooming. The plant just gets lazy, decides it doesn't need to bloom to survive, and has lovely green leaves.  We prescribe patience and cutting nitrogen from the diet.


Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis

 

 

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