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Problems with New Shrubs not Flowering

Many gardeners are disappointed after buying a shrub in full flower at their local garden centre, then after planting, they find that the flowers drop, or as is normal, the shrub fails to flower the following year - Maybe for 3 years after planting.

The main reason why shrubs don't flower after planting in a new home, is simply that of establishment. Most container grown shrubs and perennials are normally grown in a pot that restricts their root growth. This is turn, prevents the plant from making too much foliage and stem growth, which has the effect of forcing it into flower. Flowering plants sell better at garden centres that those that simply have a label!

When you plant a shrub from a container - normally in spring or summer these days - the first thing it will want to do is to get settled in its new 'home. No more root restriction - or artificial food supplies at the growing nursery - so it will need to spread its roots in search of moisture and food. The roots will need to extend at least to the with of the current growth canopy of foliage - soon!


Common shrubs affected in this way include...Philadelphus; Forsythia; Ribes; Kerria; Deutzia; Berberis; Camellia; Azaleas; Magnolias; Wisteria; Exochorda; and most late spring and early flowering shrubs.

All the energy that the shrub has, will go into making new root and foliage growth. It will not concern itself with making flower buds for the next year! (Most spring and summer flowering shrubs, produce flower buds right after their short flowering period. Not so with newly planted shrubs. They will be more interested in survival and enjoying their newly found space and freedom to roam - this means new, rapid, root and foliage growth. Flower buds can wait until the following year, which in turn means that flowers from those buds will appear in the year after that - three years after planting normally!

It is in the best interest of the newly planted shrub, to produce a root system which will be needed to support the above-ground factory unit of foliage, which is largely responsible for the future wellbeing of the shrub. Production of flowers uses a lot of the plant's energy, so the emphasis will be on growing roots, stems and foliage - rather than flowering - for the first year or so. When the shrub is happy and starts to make flower bud growth, this will often be for the following spring or summer.

The Deutzia in the image is typical of this problem. It is normally bought container grown in flower during late spring/earlt summer. The flowers would have been from flower buds made the previous year. It will rarely make any flower buds during the summer after you plant it, so it will NOT be able to flower next year!

Why does it take so long for the shrub to start flowering?

Typically, the following happens >>>>>

  • Buy shrub full of flower in Spring or Summer.
  • Take home and plant in new home.
  • In the summer, the plant will not put on much growth. It will be happy just to survive. You will probably need to water it for the first year of planting - and maybe feed it. Feeding at this time encourages growth - not flowers.
  • Following year - one year after flowering - no flowers because the shrub did not produce any flower buds last year (it's first year with you).
  • In this second year, if it does not produce flowers - it has extra energy to produce more foliage, and 'maybe' as a result will not bother - yet again - to make flower buds! So it will make those, 2 years after you first plant it.
  • Third year - most likely it will flower! - Job done!

Question and Answer from from email - >>

I had a Philadelphus in my garden for three years during which it never flowered just masses of green leaves took it out have now purchased a new one where did I go wrong

Answer - >>

""Sounds like it was very happy in rich soil...maybe you fed it as well...

Basically, shrubs like Philadelphus like a few years to get established before settling in to flower!!! It seems as though you have been a bit hasty.

The other thing that prevents flowering of new shrubs is wrong pruning - either by way of method or timing. It certainly would not have needed pruning or snipping as a young establishing shrub! Some varieties can take 3 - 4 years before flowering!

With this new one that you have just hasty digging out! The old one was doing fine by your description, and would have quite possibly flowered this year!""

Follow-up reply

""Many thanks for your advice I will defo leave this one alone no feeding pruning or overwatering thank you"" 

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