The Q&A Archives: plants not blooming

Question: I live in Nashville, Tn, where my soil is very clay-like. Here are my plant problems:
My asiatic lily, planted in May, does not bloom. It gets sun off and on during the day, as the sun passes through tree branches.
My crepe myrtle, planted a year or so ago does not bloom. It's planted up against my house on the west side of the house, and gets bright sunlight from about noon - 5:30.
My hydrangea, planted in May, is not blooming. It gets part sun throughout the day, but a lot in late afternoon. An older hydrangea, on the west side of my house, that gets bright sun from noon- 5 does bloom, however.
I always plant with a lot of peat moss and soil conditioner mixed with my clay soil.
Do you have any advice?

Answer: Asiatic lilies bloom only once a year, so it is possible yours bloomed prior to purchase if it was purchased as a container plant. If planted as a bare bulb, it may not have been mature enough to bloom yet. Also, lily bulbs sometimes take a year to settle in and become established before they will bloom in a new location. So you might wait and see what happens next spring. Lilies do however require a well drained location in the winter or they may rot. If it is not in a well drained spot you may want to move it this fall.

The most common reasons for lack of bloom in crepe myrtle are too little sun and pruning at the wrong time. Crepe myrtle needs full sun all day long to grow and bloom its best. It blooms on new growth of the season, so you would do any pruning needed to remove winter damage or control size in late winter to early spring. Summer pruning would remove the flowering wood and/or buds. Sometimes a new plant will still be rooting and becoming established and so may begin to bloom a bit later than normal, however based on your description I think it probably would like more sun. It also appreciates a bit of complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 either slow release or granular applied in the spring per the label instructions. You should also be using an annual top dressing of good quality compost and an organic mulch. The soil should be kept evenly moist (damp like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet and not bone dry) as well.

Hydrangeas can fail to bloom due to too little sun, or to improper pruning as well. Most varieties bloom on old wood, so avoid pruning except immediately after it blooms in the summer. Spring frosts can also damage the flowering wood or buds, so you might try providing some extra frost protection next spring.
As far as sunlight goes, you may want to compare with others in your neighborhood that are blooming; generally I would recommend full sun all morning or very bright dappled light all day long.

I hope this helps you trouble shoot.

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