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PAL Questions: 1 - Garden Tools:
I just bought a house with a garden which has good bones, but has been untended for a long time. I believe the garden has 4 Philadelphus X virginalis 'Minnesota Snowflake' plants. They are deciduous in the winter, and they have greened up nicely in the summer. They are about 6 feet tall. On the 4 plants, this first summer, I've only seen 2 flowers. Can these shrubs be salvaged by using a blooming (high in phosphorus) fertilizer? Or do they need something else?
The three things I would ask about Philadelphus with few flowers:
- Are they in full sun? (Sun is needed for best flowering results.)
- Have they been pruned and, if so, when? (Pruning is best done in late summer, after flowering.)
- Are they growing near a lawn or other area which receives fertilizer that is higher in Nitrogen (N) than Phosphorus (P) or Potassium (K)?
I would recommend that you test the soil before embarking on a plan of fertilization, unless you are adding a mulch such as compost, which releases its nutrients slowly. Philadelphus is usually considered a light feeder (i.e., it doesn't require a lot of supplemental fertilizer).
As far as a future pruning regime for the shrubs, Jacqueline Heriteau's Complete Trees, Shrubs & Hedges: Secrets for Selection and Care (2005) says that Philadelphus "blooms on the previous year's growth. A light annual pruning of older branches right after flowering keeps mock orange shapely and productive. Branches more than five years old should be removed in winter or early spring."
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January 13 2017 10:35:53