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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - July 06, 2011

From: Redmond, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: My Mock Orange fails to flower in Redmond, WA.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I planted a Mock Orange shrub about 5 years ago. The first few years, it only produced leaves but no blossoms. Then, last year, it finally produced 4-5 blossoms on 2 of the branches. This year, it also produced lots of healthy leaves and growth but only 5 blossoms on two branches. What could be wrong?-- Why doesn't this bloom more and can I do anything to remedy that? Should I just dig this up and start over, prune it or ??????

ANSWER:

The name Mock Orange is a common name that is applied to several plants, but the plant that you have may be Philadelphus lewisii (Lewis' mock orange).

It would be a shame to remove a 5 year old plant that seems to be growing well, except for a lack of flowering. Before digging it up, lets examine one more thing; fertilizing. There are plants whose flowering is inhibited by an imbalance in the the nutrients that are available in the soil, particularly the ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus (N/P). Too much nitrogen may result in poor flowering. If the plant has been getting regular lawn fertilizer which often has a high N/P ratio, this could account for the lack of flowering. Lets look at fertilizer a bit more closely.

The most common elements that are found in fertilizers are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), and fertilizers containing these three elements are termed complete fertilizers. Fertilizers differ in the relative amount of these elements that they contain, and this information is found on the label of the fertilizer container (bag, bottle, etc.) It is represented by three numbers eg 1-1-1, or 5-10-5, or 3-1-2, which are the percentages of the elements; N, P, and K in that order. This link from The Great Big Greenhouse and Nursery  can tell you a lot more about fertilizer.

Here are two links to Washing State University Extension; the first  is simply titled FERTILIZING, and the second is FERTILIZING LANDSCAPE TREES AND SHRUBS.

This link to Central Texas Gardening has some good tips about proper use of fertilizers.

For some help closer to home, you might want to contact the people at the Washington Native Plant Society.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lewis' mock orange
Philadelphus lewisii

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Problem with unknown tree in Austin, Texas
July 23, 2013 - Have recently moved to Austin, Texas and have a tree in my backyard that has been dropping leaves and one major branch appears to be dead. That branch has hard rust colored sap circles (about penny si...
view the full question and answer

Black fungus on cholla cactus from Austin
March 25, 2012 - How to get rid of black fungus on cholla cactus? Cut it off? And treat with what?
view the full question and answer

Grey Goo Coming from red Oak in Manchaca TX
May 13, 2013 - I have a large Red Oak in my yard that appears to be weeping some sort of grey goo from parts of the trunk. What is this goo and do I need to treat it and if so how? I'm happy to come by the Wildflow...
view the full question and answer

Restoration of mistflowers suffering from wet season
June 27, 2007 - I have planted gregg's mistflower in a bed that receives morning sun and afternoon semi-shade. It was beautiful and covered with blooms and butterflies this spring, but suddenly has become brown and ...
view the full question and answer

Catalpa and maple with dying branches in Wisconsin
July 07, 2008 - We have a northern catalpa in our front yard. It's been there for about three years now and is probably 25' high. This year it appeared to be doing great. It flowered and then all of sudden last ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center