With so many dogwoods in bloom at the moment, it is difficult to be patient for new landscape trees, like dogwoods, to grow mature enough for blooms. In our landscape, there can be various causes for delayed blooming. Just as genetics, nutrition and the environment all determine the growth of humans, so do they affect plants.
Trees started from seed take longer to bloom than those started as cuttings from older trees. The cuttings are clones so their cells are more mature and typically might bloom in two or three years. Seedlings will naturally take longer – typically 7 to 10 years. Maybe one of the parents was a late bloomer anyway, so that’s just nature’s way.
To a tree, nutrition means sunshine, soil nutrients and moisture. Understory species in a forest sometimes have to wait for years before the canopy above them opens up to let in enough sunlight to spur their development. Shade can certainly be a factor. Often our open land has been repeatedly farmed or grazed in the past so perhaps the soil has been badly depleted. Low levels of phosphate, potassium, or calcium will delay flowering. Fertilization would be the ticket in this scenario. On the other hand, we can feed a tree too well.. Too much nitrogen can lead to lots of top growth and leaves but little inclination to produce flowers.
So, as you plan your landscape choose plants to match the environment that you offer. Have a soil test made and fertilize and lime accordingly.
Article written by Glenn Palmer, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.