Little Henry Sweetspire has no blooms

Coffeegarden05(5b- Central IL)September 16, 2011

I planted a young Little Henry Sweetspire last fall in a mostly shade area (1-2 hours of mid afternnon sun and dappled sun other parts of day) where I have clay soil. I've read they can be happy in full shade. I've watched it all year and I've not seen one bloom. We had horrible heat this year in Illinois, and it did get pretty dry sometimes. Do these shrubs take a while to get settled? Maybe it was just a bad year for all the plants (which is what they are telling me at the gardening centers), or should I move it to more sun, or just less clay?

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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

You have many things working against you

1) The heat
2) The clay
3) Too little sun
4) Needs to establish
5) A plant that does NOT perform in zone 5

Although larger, folks have much better luck with Henry Garnet (myself included) in the Midwest.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 10:16AM
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Coffeegarden05(5b- Central IL)

I discovered this shrub in gardens of friends around town. They each had very nice displays. Everything I read says Little Henry is good for zones 5-9, but the sun exposure changes from partial shade to shade, and then to sun to partial shade. I also see them in many photos with hostas - which grow well in this spot for me.
Does anyone know how long theses guys take to establish?
How long should I leave it in this spot?
SHould I be making amends to my soil in the Spring or now, in the early fall?

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 11:21AM
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I had a couple of things that didn't bloom this year, and I'm chalking it up to the bizarre weather. I'd give your sweetspire another year or so (with hopefully more normal weather) and see what happens.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 10:42PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

whaas left out drought and improper watering of a recent transplant.. off his otherwise good list ...

you dont mention where you are.. so its hard to guess ...


    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 10:17AM
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Same thing happened to me and similar conditions. Zone 5, clay soil, shade are all okay with this shrub. It flourishes all over town here. They cannot be left to dry out, however. I forgot a couple times and it wilted. It came back but I wonder if that is why it didn't bloom this year. I've heard of a case where it bloomed a couple years, then didn't for inexplicable reason. I suspect a bit more sun would be good for your shrub and might help it flower better but if it is getting at least dappled sun for a good part of the day, it may just be the drying out. You're not alone with this and let's hope for better luck next year. It may bloom for a few years and then skip. Sounds like that can happen with this shrub. Keep it watered, I am.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 2:21AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

to define 'shade' is nearly impossible in words ...

another option for excessive green growth over flower.. is not enough sun .... and in fact.. would be the easiest to solve by moving the plant to more sun ...

unless you camp out in someones shade garden.. you can not come to any conclusions about how much sun their plants get ...

if one were to suggest that full sun is anything greater than 8 hours ... some say 6 hours.. then technically .. anything less than either number.. is called shade ....

so if you are only giving them an hour or two.. you might be closer to trying to grow them in a cave.. rather than in what the requisite amount of sun is .. and then it depends on whether the rest of the shade is filtered light ... or a complete canopy ...


    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 8:39AM
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Coffeegarden05(5b- Central IL)

Ok. We are in Central IL and ken adrian is right, my mention of shade was perhaps too vague. The bed is up against the back of my house, which faces East. It's under a very tall tree with a tall canopy. It receives shade in the morning until about 12:00 then a good 2.5 hours of sun - but not consecutively, most of the rest of the day it has dappled sunlight. So I do not consider this Full Shade.
Thank you for all your comments. I'm guessing it needs more sun, but will try it one more year because I planned all other plantings around this shrub. I will fertilize in the spring and nurse it next season with lots of water.
Thanks again

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 1:32PM
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I haven't had any problems with hardiness on any of the Itea's up here in northern IL. However, they are acid lovers for sure. Woefully chlorotic in some soils(and many containers at nurseries!). I have in both sun and shade, but the key seems to be wet acid soil to get them to thrive. They sucker and spread fairly aggressively when happy.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 10:24AM
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