Potentilla -- will I get much bloom this summer?

Discussion in 'Woody Plants' started by janetdoyle, Jul 3, 2009.

  1. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    I have some well-matured Potentilla shrubs, white and yellow, and groomed them down a lot during the late winter and early spring, which was quite cold here in Victoria. I had allowed them to get quite overgrown the previous Fall. They seemed very hardy.

    I have learned it is a mistake to prune that early.

    Now they are flush with leaf growth [they were also watered and fertilized well -- would that inhibit bloom in this species?], but there were no flowers or buds. I did re-prune to the rounded shape recently, and they look excellent with a full lush leaf-out. Since then some nice large flowers have appeared, but no flower flush. Would the recent re-pruning have stimulated some bloom? Any chance of flowers this summer? I presume if kept well trimmed until winter, but not early-pruned next spring [waiting until warmer weather] that they will bloom next year.

    I have read conflicting advice on how to stimulate bloom.
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Might take 2 or 3 years for them to get new stems mature enough to flower.

    PS Shrubby Cinquefoil is now Dasiphora fruticosa.
     
  3. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Thank you for the information -- I do like these shrubs, when in bloom they fill a garden with colour in mid-summer where I can't grow too many items other than conifers and what I already have, maybe 5 types of mostly early and late spring-blooming woody shrubs, owing to deer wandering through our suburb -- they don't like Potentilla!

    I have a further question for you -- so they don't bloom on new growth? Certainly the flowers that did appear were on older stems. I must have picked up some erroneous info on the Web. What, Michael F, do you recommend for further pruning, then -- none? They can grow into an un-shapely mass about 3.5 ft high, as they are clustered together, and I like keeping the individual rounded profiles, and down to about 2.5 ft -- will this trimming inhibit bloom, and what would the best time of year be to do it? If they are pruned in mid-fall, probably needing by then only a few inches off, mainly at the sides and a few tall stems, and left alone over the winter and in colder spring months, would that inhibit bloom further?
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Personally, I'd not prune at all. But you can probably give it a light trim to keep a particular shape without harming it much.
     
  5. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Well, thanks. I can't say I'm much encouraged. These 5 or 6 Potentilla shrubs were here when we moved in, and they bloomed well until pruned. But they began to look scrubby and wild and grew quite tall, tending to meld together in one swath, not how they were intended to look I don't believe -- they are in a townhouse front garden, most of them together in one place, and the garden needs to look groomed owing to the fact it is in a townhouse condominium. We used to have a large sprawling yard in another province and that was fine, shrubs could grow to a large natural size and be maximized that way. A vaguely Japanese-style look appeals to me and I have tried to develop that, with small conifers and moss-like groundcovers, and a few blooming shrubs. I have seen Potentilla in various gardens elsewhere, kept under control, I believe... I could be mistaken. They can't be let to grow freely where they are. I may have to select one shrub or two and take out the rest, if letting them grow freely is the only way they will bloom. Thank you, I intend to leave them alone except for the minor trimming now, and see if they bloom in a year or two, but they will have to be either kept trimmed or reduced in number.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    There are many cultivars of varying heights. You may have a tall-growing one, have seen smaller-growing ones elsewhere and thought they were that way due to pruning.

    Pruning books describe how to handle this shrub. There are multiple titles in print/at libraries. Two good ones are Brickell/Joyce, RHS/AHS Pruning & Training and Brown, Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
     
  7. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Thank you, Ron B, as ever. I'll track those titles down. If I could find some smaller ones that would do the trick, I would get them. I'll check with the nursery where I saw some pink-flowering ones for sale and see how big they are supposed to get. I was hoping not to have to do any more digging and re-planting, I am getting a bit worn out with forever re-doing a basically postage-stamp sized garden! It's got to be finished soon! Thank heavens for heather, small conifers and the like...
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Due to the drab winter aspect I would severely limit the amount of space devoted to shrubby potentilla in such a situation. Also if you want to achieve a Japanese look there will not be much of a place for the dead sticks look.
     
  9. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Too true. I just found them cheery and charming and the Japanese look is more on the other side of my driveway anyway, where the garden extends into some lawn space... This other side is a bit more English... it would be a job and a half to take them all out and replant, though.
     

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