Dogwoods that won't bloom

Discussion in 'Cornus (dogwoods)' started by Unregistered, Jun 19, 2004.

  1. We moved into our home in South Jersey approximately 5 years ago in late fall. The next fall I planted two white dogwood and one pink dogwood. We live on a one acre property among a dense cover of scarlet oak and white oak, and several holly and pitch pine. The dogwood were 3-4 feet tall when planted. The white dogwood bloomed (approximately 3-5 blooms per tree) the first spring, but have failed to bloom for the past three springs. The pink dogwood has had only 1-2 blooms each spring. Our soil tends toward the acidic. I use shredded oak leaves for mulch. I do not feed the trees. The white dogwood were planted near a dense pachasandra ground cover. DO you have any ideas as to the problem? Trees show new growth each year and appear healthy, but the lack of blooms is disappointing. Thank you.
  2. Member

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    lansing, michigan
    I have 1 white dogwood tree that was blooming when it was purchased but has not bloomed in the past two years. what am I doing wrong? I live in michigan. Thanks...
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2005
  3. I also live in Michigan and have a dogwood tree that doesn't bloom. It was planted three years ago and is now about 9 feet tall. The foliage is quite compact but it seems to be thriving and has added new growth. Any tips?
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    WA USA (Z8)
    Cold winters killing flower buds? Too much shade? Somebody viewing the specimens in person would likely have a better idea what might be happening.
  5. pattykake

    pattykake Member

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    united states
    I had the same problem with my wisteria vine. after research i discovered plants need phosphorus to encourage bloom and nitrogen for green growth. I purchased a product called superphosphate. I hope this works for you.
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    WA USA (Z8)
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Britain zone 8/9
    I suspect they're simply too young at the moment. The odd few flowers in the first year is a fairly common one-off happening, maybe the nursery treated them in some way, or maybe just the stress of being moved caused them to flower. Now they're settling in and devoting all their energy to producing roots, leaves and branches. Give them a few more years and they should start flowering well.
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    WA USA (Z8)
    Likewise, small camellias may come from nursery loaded with flower buds then grow in garden for years before resuming flowering. Probably just a difference between intensive cultural practices used by grower and more normal conditions of home garden.
  9. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    What may apply to some Washington and
    other but certainly not all Pacific Northwest
    soils does not necessarily apply elsewhere.
    There are many soils that are not overly laden
    with phosphorous, indeed, there may be more
    soils that are closer to being deficient in elemental
    phosphorous in the US.

    With Dogwoods asking why does my plant not
    bloom can better be asked, what prevented my
    plant from setting flower buds?

    When people asked us the question the old way,
    on the phone or in person our first question to
    them was what kind of Dogwood is it? Was is
    a Cornus florida, Cornus kousa, Cornus kousa
    chinensis, Cornus nuttallii, which one? We have
    to have a basis, a foundation to start with so we
    start with which kind of Dogwood. Then we ask
    about cultural techniques used, such as the
    watering method, soil type, any soil amendments
    used, what kind of fertilizer regimen was used
    and which fertilizers were used if any and at what
    application rates. We try to learn as much about
    the plants setting, how it has been taken care of
    the light factors and an overview of the history
    of the plant before we can make any qualified
    analysis of what is causing the bud set problem.

    For several forms of Dogwoods we need to know
    of any temperature fluctuations that have occurred
    right after bloom as we have found that night time
    cooling along with mid day bright sun has a dramatic
    impact on whether a Dogwood will set flower buds
    for next year or not. Many people tend to over
    fertilize Dogwoods but it is their timing of their
    application that messes up the plants biological
    system to set buds when the fertilizer is making the
    plant set out elongated shoots instead. If the shoots
    cannot stop growing in a critical one to two month
    span about six weeks after the plant has bloomed then
    the plant will not set buds.

    In cooler climates such as Lake Tahoe and where my
    naturalized Dogwoods are at a 5,500 foot elevation
    near Yosemite many Dogwoods fail to set buds due
    to an imbalance of nutrients in the soil. Herein is why
    a bloom fertilizer becomes even more critical for
    Dogwoods as Dogwoods require available potassium
    and phosphorous to aid in their flower formation.

    Yes, in general, most forest type soils may have what
    appears from a soil analysis ample phosphorous in the
    soil but in what form is that phosphorous in, in other
    words is the phosphorous locked up or is the phosphorous
    readily available for the plant to utilize. In many cases
    in a forest situation the phosphorous is bound up which
    the soil test does not tell us. We may have to use a
    spectrophotometer and get a read out from it to better
    know in what form the current state of phosphorous
    is in, in the soil. A soil test will determine the presence
    and in some cases depending on the type of test the
    concentration of phosphorous but it will not tell us in
    what form that phosphorous is in. We need to know
    if the nutrient is locked up or not and then how to
    unbound it if it is indeed locked up.

    Temperature becomes rather important in a cooler
    climate as Dogwoods prefer warmth during the
    day yet like night time cooling to set buds. Not
    much different than many areas are with certain
    "Himalayan" forms and "Himalayan hybrids" of
    deciduous Magnolias. Many areas of the US have
    had almost a constant temperature in recent years
    in which the day time temps are real close to being
    the same as the night time temps have been. This
    is a disaster situation for most Dogwoods to set
    flower buds. The tree cannot figure out what it
    should do, should it try to grow to sustain itself
    or should the Dogwood grow then stop, set buds
    and then continue on and grow after the buds have
    been set. With an almost constant and really not
    a variable temperature difference of day and night
    the Dogwood, same as the Magnolia, will want to
    grow and not stop and set buds. The plants actually
    are too happy with the evenness of the temperatures,
    so happy in fact they forget to set flower buds in the
    process. I went through this for a number of years
    with a pink bordered white Kousa in that when the
    plant should have stopped to set flower buds it kept
    right on growing even without any Nitrogen applications
    in an iron oxide rich gravely soil. This condition for me
    was more due to the fact that when the plant should
    have stopped to set buds the high temperatures for the
    day were only five to seven degrees warmer than the
    cooling night time temps were. Not enough of a
    fluctuating extreme to force the plant to stop its shoot
    initiation and shoot elongation process.

    A basic rule of thumb with Dogwoods to keep in mind
    when asking for help with no bud set is what are your
    day and night time temps? Do you ever give the plant
    Nitrogen when it is in bloom or right after it bloomed.
    How well did you water in the fertilizer? How much
    sunlight does the plant get during an average day as too
    much shade will preclude bud set with most but not all
    forms of Dogwoods. All of the above is not even taking
    into account the soil type, any soil and soil pH issues and
    the watering practices.

    LeslieG likes this.
  10. Carol Ja

    Carol Ja Active Member 10 Years

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    Salt Spring Island
    Wow Jim!!!
    You give great answers.
    Carol Ja
  11. B101

    B101 Member

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    Pacific Northwest, Multnomah
    Jim, thanks for your information. I have a similar problem with my Kousa, except it did bloom, beautifully the second year after planting, but this year I only got about 3 blossoms. Here in the Pacific N.W., we usually don't have the problem of warm nights...things generally cool down nicely. Do the buds set in the Fall? If so, that may be it, since we had a warm autumn, up through November, then a very frozen, three-week cold/snow snap. Could that be the problem?
  12. MsMuffet

    MsMuffet Member

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    Indiana USA
    Thanks for this information. I have the same concern about the dogwood tree in my yard. I was wondering if this was normal. What you said about them devoting their energy to growing roots seems to make perfect sense. I will just be patient and let them do their thing and see what happens over the next few years. Thank you.
  13. David Payne Terra Nova

    David Payne Terra Nova Active Member

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    Port Coquitlam, B.C. Canada
    They prefer a lower pH. Say around 5.5
  14. Schattenfreude

    Schattenfreude Active Member

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    6a • Independence, Missouri USA
    You might try adding Epsom salts to the ground around your trees before a heavy rain. Or dissolve the salts in a 5-gal. bucket and then water the tree. I can't recall how much salt per gallon of water, but a search should provide you with the right proportion. This technique has helped my dogwood bloom profusely year after year.

    Kevin in KC

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