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
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

Problems with Mountain Laurel in Leander TX
June 15, 2009 - My 13 yr old Mountain Laurel tree is sick. It has lost most of its leaves after blooming this spring. The twigs seem to still be pliable so I assume alive. I saw no moth worms or bags this year, ju...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Copper Canyon Daisy from Austin
June 08, 2014 - We had 3 copper canyon daisies. Two of them bloomed profusely last year, but only one has come back this spring. We cut them all back as instructed. When it was clear that two were not coming back, we...
view the full question and answer

School project on acid rain effects on plants from Austin
October 18, 2013 - Hi I go to an Austin high school and I am doing a project on how acid rain affects plant growth. I am wondering if you know any plants that would be more or less susceptible to acid rain for this proj...
view the full question and answer

Wound in Monterey Oak from Austin
June 20, 2012 - I have a 10 year old Monterey Oak that has developed a wound that is secreting a white bubbly substance that has attracted all the bugs, like butterfly's , pill bugs, ants, and several others I don'...
view the full question and answer

Need help controling suckers from an ornamental plum in San Pedro, CA.
August 10, 2010 - I have an ornamental plum tree in my garden which produces a lot of suckers in my vegetable beds. I do not want to use harmful chemicals and cutting them back is a hopeless venture and leaves small...
view the full question and answer

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