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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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Sunday - June 14, 2009

From: sinking spring, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Non-blooming Hypericum in Eastern Pennsylvania
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe

QUESTION:

I purchased a St. Johnswort about 3 years ago. I has never bloomed. It is alive & well. I know this since it has started to spread shoots. Is there a trick to this one? Occasionally something I plant doesn't survive, but I have never had a plant survive & not bloom. Am I missing something?

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to disseminating information about our native species and encouraging their use in their native habitats. Here is a link to our article on the reasons why natives make sense. Since St Johns Wort is a common name that covers many varieties, we can’t be positive about the precise species you are growing; Pennsylvania has sixteen native Hypericum (St. Johns Wort) varieties, with varying habitat and growth requirements. We can try to identify it if you send us a photo. If your plant is from a nursery it may be Hypericum ‘Hidcote’, a cultivar whose parents are of European origin and out of our area of expertise. Here is a link to a web page with background on Hypericum 'Hidcote'.

Some general causes for plants not to flower follow:

Too little sun; Hypericum can grow in shade, but flowers better in sunnier locations.

A variety not well-suited to your area; nurseries often get stock from far-away suppliers in different climates.

Improper fertilization; high nitrogen fertilizers can promote green over flowering growth.

Pruning at the wrong time; probably not the problem here, but some plants bloom on new growth, others on previous seasons' growth.

 

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