Ornamental Tree Not Blooming - What's the Cause?
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Why Your Ornamental Trees Aren’t Flowering
Reasons for Lack of Flowering and What You Can Do About It
When you plant an ornamental tree in bloom, one of its main attractions is usually that it is in bloom. Sure, the flowering period only lasts a few weeks at best, but the burst of color and/or scent in your garden is a highlight of the gardening year and something to look forward to, especially after a long winter.
But what if your Japanese cherry, dogwood, wild apple, or other flowering tree is not in bloom?
Failure to succeed can be due to various reasons. The tree must adapt to the local climate, a very hot place can be as harmful as very cold.
It requires a certain type of soil, the right amount of light, a sufficient amount of fertilizer with the right nutrient content, and the right pruning at the right time.
Every tree species is different, so when determining the cause of why your tree is not flowering, it is important that you familiarize yourself with its specific needs.
Old wood vs. new wood
Trees and shrubs form flower buds on new or old wood. Old wood is the growth of the previous year, while the new wood is the growth of this year.
Most spring-blooming trees bloom on old wood, while late-season blooming trees bloom on new wood. Although you can visually distinguish old and new wood by their appearance (old wood is usually darker than new wood), the best way to determine if the tree is flowering in old or new wood is to identify which species it has and consult a profile.
Or a description of the plant that includes this type of information in the pruning instructions.
Why Trees Fail to Bloom
Before you find out why your tree is not blooming, make sure you identify it correctly. Magnolia species, for example, vary widely in terms of flowering time and light requirements. For trees that you bought from a nursery and planted yourself, identification is often easy. But if you've moved into a new home and the tree is already there, you may need to do a little research to determine what you have.
Flower Bud Damage
If a tree is not flowering but appears healthy, the climate may simply be too cold for the species and variety. Flower buds are less hardy than leaf buds, so a tree can survive a cold winter with temperatures below -20 degrees Fahrenheit and enter spring, but the cold kills its buds.
Since it is not possible to protect an entire tree from the cold, there is not much you can do other than the right plant varieties for your area of strength.
Even if a tree is perfectly suited to the local climate, heavy frosts in late spring can damage flower buds and not cause blooms that year.
Insufficient humidity can affect a tree's bloom, although you may not see the effects right away. If there is a severe and prolonged drought, when trees that bloom in old wood develop their buds for the next season and do not receive additional water, they may not flower the following spring. To avoid this, water the tree during a drought.
Pruning at the Wrong Time
When a tree is pruned at the wrong time or when it is too strong, it may not flower because the flower buds were accidentally removed in the process; instead, you will get a lot of vegetative growth, stimulated by pruning.
Trees can flourish on old or new wood and should be pruned accordingly. Here, too, the right time is crucial. For example, Japanese cherry trees should be pruned immediately after flowering to stimulate the growth of new shoots in the same season, which will become the next year's flowers. Be sure to follow the specific pruning instructions for each species of tree.
Established trees growing in healthy soils generally receive an adequate amount of nutrients and do not need fertilizers. But if a tree isn't flowering and you can rule out all other reasons, adding a high-phosphorus fertilizer (indicated by the high "K" number on the fertilizer label) can help it bloom next year.
To determine if and how much fertilizer needs to be added, proper soil testing is essential. Adding fertilizers based solely on guesswork can damage the tree; in fact, the wrong addition of high nitrogen fertilizer will only lead to excessive vegetative growth, rather than flower buds, and will structurally weaken the tree.
Soil test kits are available from your local extension office. You can also buy DIY soil test kits at home renovation centers.
Proper lighting conditions are critical for flowering. Most trees require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight to flower. However, the more sunlight, the better it does not apply to everyone. Flowering dogwoods, for example, do best in partial shade. Knowing the tree's needs is the key to understanding if the problem may be a lack of light.
A tree must be mature to flower, and your tree may not have reached that stage yet. The number of years before a tree reaches maturity varies greatly from species to species. There is no correlation between the growth rate of a tree and its flowering. For example, a tulip poplar grows fast, but it can take up to 15 years to flower. For lilacs, on the other hand, you can expect to see bloom within three to five years of planting.
Not Enough Sunlight
To encourage more positive flowering conditions, prune nearby plants so your tree has more access to light, or even remove them if they don't add visual value to the landscape.
Not all trees will bloom in the same abundance every year; there may be a strong bloom one year and a weak bloom the following year. This phenomenon, also known as the biennial habit, occurs mainly with fruit trees. Among ornamental flowering trees, this phenomenon occurs mainly in apple trees.
Enjoy This Video Tutorial About Flowering Trees
Source: Van den Berk Nurseries
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