En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Non-blooming parsley hawthorn in Madison MS

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - April 25, 2010

From: Madison, MS
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Non-blooming parsley hawthorn in Madison MS
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a parsley hawthorn that has never bloomed. It is thriving in a low area under tall pines. It gets filtered sun most of the day with more direct sun in late afternoon. I don't know the age but it is over six feet tall and still has some thorns. I have never fertilized it.

ANSWER:

We are also puzzled as to why your Crataegus marshallii (parsley hawthorn) is not blooming. We have some theories, but that's all they are- theories; we could find no indications of what would cause a parsley hawthorn to fail to bloom. 

Our first idea was sun exposure. The page on this plant in our Native Plant Database says it requires part shade, which we consider to be 2 to 6 hours of sun a day. It's a known fact that any flowering plant flowers better with more sunshine. Other websites said the tree grew well in sun (6 or more hours of sun a day) or part shade. In the shade of tall pines, it may not be getting enough sun, although we are surprised it doesn't at least try to put on a few blooms, because without blooms, it has no seed, and every plant wants to recreate itself.

Second thought, soil moisture. Several of the resources we consulted said it was a "swamp" plant, did well in very moist soil, and could even have its roots under water for a period without damage. 

Then, you mentioned fertilizer. Ordinarily, we don't recommend any fertilizer for native plants in their native locations. Parsley hawthorn appears to grow in or very near Madison County, and should have the kind of sandy, acidic soils it needs for best growth. If you are looking at fertilizer components, the N-P-K is nitrogen - phosphorus - potassium. The potassium in a fertilizer contributes to flowering and fruiting, including flower color and size. Since this tree blooms white March through May, it should not be fertilized now, but early next year, maybe in February, you might try some 10-10-20 or a similar ratio of one part nitrogen, one part phosphorus and 2 parts potassium to give the blooming a little boost. 

Finally, we come to age of the tree and when it was planted. If it was planted in the last year or so, particularly if it was planted in the summer, it may not yet have recovered from transplant shock. When a tree first goes into the ground, especially if it is planted in hot weather, the roots and indeed the whole tree system have to get organized and take first things first, like getting water to the leaves, so the leaves, through photosynthesis, can manufacture food for the whole plant. It takes a great deal of energy for a plant to bloom and set fruit, and it just may not have gotten to the point where it has that much energy. And that includes the question of age. Six feet tall is not very tall for a tree, and it may not yet have matured enough to bloom.

With the exception of sun exposure, all of these probabilities are easily addressed by a little patience, perhaps a little more water and a light application of fertilizer in the very early Spring. If it is not getting enough sun to bloom, you will have to decide if the lovely foliage is enough, or if you want to either transplant the tree (which will set it back still more) or trim up some of the trees that are shading it.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Crataegus marshallii

Crataegus marshallii

Crataegus marshallii

Crataegus marshallii

 

 

More Trees Questions

Juniperus virginiana and some pines for Florida
July 11, 2007 - I live in Pensacola, FL (Northwest Florida, practically lower-coastal Alabama) and I am looking for a medium size tree that will cast shade on my home. The house faces due west and it gets extremely h...
view the full question and answer

Mulching tree root in San Angelo, TX
April 02, 2014 - San Angelo, Texas is in a drought stage. Will it help our trees to mulch the base of them?
view the full question and answer

Thuja arborvitae not thriving in Austin
November 04, 2010 - I planted 5 giant thuja arborvitae two years ago. They have grown six inches and aren't doing that well. I live in Austin Texas and it was a hot summer. I water them 2x a week, now 1x a week. They a...
view the full question and answer

Trees and other plants for privacy along lake shoreline
March 09, 2013 - We are purchasing a new home that has a 2 acre lake. We would like to add some plants/trees for privacy around the shore line. Can you suggest something that would fill in nicely and is strong enoug...
view the full question and answer

Can a soapberry tree be grown in Colorado Springs?
May 04, 2010 - I live in Colorado Springs and I was wondering if it is possible to grow a soapberry tree here?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center