Leptodermis oblonga dwarf lilac

trailer_gal(z4 ND)September 11, 2009

I have had 2 False Lilac since 2005 that I got from Park's and they are zone 5. I am zone 3 or 4 but thought I could make it work by covering in the winter. First year they bloomed in their pots. Brought them in for the winter and kept in a cool place, 40 degrees. They bloomed very little that next summer. Have been leaving them outside in the ground these last years and they come up but never get to bloom. Last winter was really cold and I covered them well but they are just coming up nicely now. They are only a few inches tall. I thought they wouldn't even come up. Our first frost could be anytime now, or hold off for a few weeks. If I would dig them up this fall and bring them in the house,giving them a lot or light, maybe they would bloom? Do they bloom on new wood? Or, should I dig them up and keep them in a cool/darker place again like I did the first year or so? They really didn't seem to thrive that way either. Any advice would be appreciated.

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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

Leptodermis seems to bloom on both old and the current year's wood. I find it necessary to cut the plant back hard in the spring to keep it in bounds, so bloom takes place late in the year on new wood rather than earlier on the old wood.

I think you probably have to decide whether to grow this as potted plant or in the garden. Digging it up and replanting each year is an awful lot of work and probably eliminates any chance of bloom because all the plant's energy goes to an annual re-establishment of roots.

Once established, I've found leptodermis to spread by suckering. This suggests you might be able to successfully divide your plant, keeping part in the ground and another part potted. In order for the potted one to bloom, however, it will have to go through a normal period of winter dormancy.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 4:49AM
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trailer_gal(z4 ND)

Mainegrower, thanks for answering. I am hoping that being these two little plants are just now coming up they will think it is spring and that they will bloom now because it is the end of their winter dormancy. Do you mean that winter dormancy means they should be freezing for awhile? Do yours loose all their leaves for fall and winter? It seems to me that if I don't bring them in this fall they will have lost the season of summer. They look real springlike and fresh right now. Other plants are dying back for fall. Thanks again

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 7:40AM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

My leptodermis loses all its leaves for the winter. It's possible that your plants will have time to bloom before sub-freezing temperatures set in, but it seems pretty unlikely. As I wrote in the prior post, mine is very late (August) blooming because I cut it back in the spring; yours would have to grow new wood, set buds and bloom awfully quickly.

The fact that your plants look spring like and fresh will in actuality make them more vulnerable to winter cold because they will have no chance to ripen their wood. They are indeed behaving as if spring has arrived; unfortunately, they've got things exactly backwards.

At this point, your best option is probably to repot the plants. Sub-freezing temperatures are usually not necessary to induce dormancy, but temperatures in the 30's and 40's are. After your plants go dormant, perhaps you could store them in a cellar or other cool but not necessarily freezing place. If you gradually bring them into warmer temperatures and greater light in late February or March, they ought to bloom for you.

BTW: It's interesting that you've managed to keep your plants going in Z4. Leptodermis is closely related to daphne, an altogether tricky and tempermental genus of plants.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 5:52AM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

I have grown Leptodermis oblonga here in zone 4a (just west of Minneapolis) since 2003. It is deciduous. The first winter I too kept it in a pot, heeled in and covered, outside. Blooming was fairly good the following year. I planted it out in full sun in 2004 as a 1 gal 5 stem plant.

I do not winter mulch it. The plant dies back by about half each year, but steadily gains in size (width, but not height). Max height at the end of the season is about 2ft (the tallest sprig). Width is now about 1.5ft. Wake up time in spring is extremely late, and flowering is meager. Both, I suspect due to winter injury. In this climate it seems to have a spring bloom (from old wood) and one very late summer flush that is now. Mine grows in a hot, dry garden. I divided it this year and put a piece in a mulched area with good soil, more moisture and full sun to see if it does better. I keep it only as a novelty. It certainly isn't the blooming machine that it is down south, or even acceptable as a blooming plant. But it doesn't take much space, so I can tinker with it.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 4:56PM
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trailer_gal(z4 ND)

Noticed that my Leptodermis are even maybe spreading a little.
Like yours, leftwood, mine have their best growth in the wideth. Do you think you got the best blooming after the first winter when you heeled it in and covered.
It seems that mine goes backward each year from winter damage. This was the worst yet, being now only a few inches tall.
I went out and looked again today and the plants look so tender, like springtime. I think I will have to get them into some sort of shelter from the cold. I also have an Endless Summer hydrangea in the same area that came up just recently. I didn't think it had survived the winter. Am thinking of digging that out too. I don't think these plants have had a long enough growing season to make it through another winter like last.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2009 at 11:33PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Do you think you got the best blooming after the first winter when you heeled it in and covered.

Yes. Outside it is winter damaged every year.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2009 at 11:10PM
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