The Q&A Archives: Non-flowering Abutilon

Question: I have a flowering maple that I purchased last fall. It was in bloom when it was purchased. Unfortunately it was shocked when it was not watered for a few days when I was away, and dropped all its buds. It has not bloomed since (it is May). It has been growing larger, but has not produced buds. It is set back in a west window where it recieves afternoon sun, and remains at a constant temperature with no drafts. I have not repotted it since I bought it. Help! I miss the flowers. Norine

Answer: Many flowering maples bloom almost continuously, but some varieties may have shorter flowering periods. Let's assume yours isn't that type! Have you fertilized with a phosphorus source to promote bloom? Here?s some basic info on fertilizer and nutrients that plants require. The 3 numbers on a fertilizer bag refer to the percentage of N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus), and K (potassium) in the bag. There are different formulations for different purposes. In general terms, nitrogen produces lush green growth, phosphorus helps strengthen stems and produce flowers, and potassium keeps the root system healthy. If you're applying fertilizer to fruiting (e.g., tomatoes) or flowering plants, you're not as interested in the plant developing leaves as you are in it flowers and fruit, so you'd use a formulation lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus, such as Miracle-Gro's Plant Food at 15-30-15. Bone meal is an organic source of phosphorus. Another factor is the amount of sunlight. They will take full sun and if yours if receiving only afternoon sun that may not be enough. Insufficient light is another factor in non-blooming. Since your plant sounds like it is growing foliage and otherwise doing well, I'd try some phosphorus first. If that doesn't make a difference after a month or two, perhaps move it to a sunnier location.

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