En EspaŅol

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
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
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

Problems with blueberries from Kernersville NC
April 29, 2012 - My blueberry plants have no leaves or scrawny ones. I have 13 plants, 5 of them are like this.
view the full question and answer

Chlorosis in Texas Wisteria from Blanco TX
November 05, 2012 - Just noticed a Texas Wisteria I bought last month and it is already looking chlorotic. Mixed compost in w/the dirt it is planted in but I don't think that will be enough. Is Blanco soil too alkaline?...
view the full question and answer

Red, puffy growths on Concord grape vine
July 07, 2015 - I have a growth on my grapevine that is red and puffy almost looks like it is full of water. It is a Concord grapevine. I have images I can send to you! It is on the stems.
view the full question and answer

White fungus-like growths on plants from Stephenville TX
May 25, 2013 - What is a white fungus-like growth on plants in a garden? It can be seen on the ground in ball-like shapes similar to puff balls or on plants
view the full question and answer

Hibiscus wilt in Texas Star hibiscus
November 10, 2005 - I have a Texas star hibiscus on my deck. It flourished all summer, but not quite a month ago, the leaves turned yellow and fell off. Will it come back? What happened???
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center