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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.

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Sunday - April 30, 2006

From: Springfield, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Failure of fragrance in Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus floridus) in Illinois
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a sweet shrub bush that I took from the root of another one. Every year it blooms but never has even a smidgen of fragrance. The bush it came from was very fragrant. Should I do something to the soil to make it more suitable. We live in Illinois. The bush came for one in Alabama. It's just full of blooms now, but no smell.

ANSWER:

Sweet shrub (Calycanthus floridus) is a fickle lady. Some plants are exceedingly fragrant while others have little or no fragrance at all. Apparently, weather conditions can affect fragrance, but I don't know what the mechanism is for that. If the root you took came from a highly fragrant plant, your plant should be highly fragrant as well. Morning and evening are the times of most intense fragrance. Apparently, the flowers' nectaries dry up upon pollination and fragrance quickly fades. So, if you have an abundance of pollinators, that could be the source of the problem. You can find a discussion about sweet shrub on Garden Web.
 

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