Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - July 04, 2011

From: Niagara Falls, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Red buckeye not blooming in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I planted my red buckeye in September 2007 and it was about 18 inches tall. It is now a few inches short of 5ft. tall. I have had it in the ground for nearly 4 yrs and it has never bloomed. I have friends who also purchased one and their trees started to bloom between 2 and 3 ft. tall. I was really counting on this tree for spring blooms for my hummingbird garden. Any help or suggestions?

ANSWER:

According to our Native Plant Database the most northern state that Aesculus pavia (Scarlet buckeye) is native to is Virginia.  Michael Dirr, in his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses states that it is native from Virginia to Florida and hardy in Zones 6 to 9.

So the real question is, why are your friends' plants blooming?  In Niagara Falls you are in Zone 6 which means that the plant will survive your winter, but you are definitely out of the native range of the plant.  There is something about the conditions in which the other plants are planted that are more favorable than yours and you will have to figure out what that difference is.

Ideal growing conditions for the plant are part shade and moist, loamy, somewhat acidic soil.

Look carefully at where your friends' plants are sited and try to figure out what sort of microclimate they have and see if you can mimic it.  It seems like what you are experiencing is something all northern gardeners do at some point ... when you take a plant out of it's "comfort zone" it may survive, but not thrive.  Because the plant flowers somewhat early in the season, the flower buds are set during the previous growing season.  The buds on your plant are not surviving the winter for some reason.  You can see a photo of a bud at this blogspot. Watch your freinds' plants closely through this growing season and let us know if you figure out what is going wrong. 

Some other hummingbird favorites for your area are:

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea)

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)

Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet beebalm)

Penstemon digitalis (Mississippi penstemon)

 

From the Image Gallery


Scarlet buckeye
Aesculus pavia

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

New jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

Mississippi penstemon
Penstemon digitalis

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Trees starting to die in subdivision in Hutto, TX
May 31, 2012 - I live in Hutto Tx, in a subdivision where everyone has the 2 trees planted in the front yard. My trees have started to die, and I want to find out what kind they are to find a solution
view the full question and answer

Hybrid Leyland Cypress leaning in Annapolis MC
June 29, 2011 - We have a large, 9-year old Leyland Cypress that has tipped over. It is still green and growing but leaning slightly off center. It's about 20' tall. Should we stake it? If so, we'd like to do ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with a Sherman (Shumard?) Oak from Bixby OK
May 14, 2012 - We have done extensive research on oak fungi/diseases/pests could be affecting our Sherman Oak tree but we are stumped. The leaves are falling off and have some sort of moldy bunch within the leaf it...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Habiturf. Is it dormant or dead?
July 24, 2013 - We planted habiturf in spring 2012. It's beautiful. But since last summer, we have had one area that seems to go dormant much more rapidly than the rest, even though it receives the same amount of ...
view the full question and answer

Recently planted Chinquapin Oak with browning leaves in Marlin, TX.
July 31, 2012 - We planted a Chinquapin Oak this in March 2012. As of July 21, 2012, the tips of the leaves on the lower branches are turning brown. We cannot see any insects. There does not appear to be any fungu...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.