Can you force stone plants to bloom?

When plants don't want to bloom

Too shady is the number one cause when plants are sparsely blooming. If you plant sunbathers like lavender or coneflower in the shade, they have to devote all their energy to creating enough leaf surface to take advantage of the scant sunlight and neglect flower formation. You should either move the plants to a sunnier location in autumn or provide better light incidence by thinning out the treetops. By the way: Even rhododendrons that do not like full sun locations show significantly fewer flowers in deep shade.

Wrong fertilization

Just like us humans, plants can become fat and (blooming) lazy if they are fed too well. An unbalanced ratio of nitrogen and phosphorus means that the abundance of flowers is reduced and the plants only form puffy green leaves. Above all, nitrogen stimulates growth and leaf formation and slows down flower formation, while phosphorus stimulates flower formation. So do not fertilize your plants too one-sided and use pure nitrogen fertilizers only in organic form (e.g. manure or horn shavings). You should always provide potted plants and balcony flowers with so-called bloom fertilizer with a sufficiently high phosphorus content. Adjust the nutrients in garden plants to the soil conditions. On heavy, loamy soils, the plants get by with fewer nutrients than on drier sandy soils.

Wrong pruning

Spring bloomers such as forsythia, viburnum and scented jasmine as well as fruit trees form their flower buds in the previous year. If you cut back the trees before flowering, you will have to do without the colorful pile for one season. You can only prune back summer bloomers such as hibiscus, panicle hydrangea and summer lilac in early spring. The flowering starts a little later, but is all the more lush. The farmer's hydrangea is an exception: although it does not bloom until summer, it also sets its flower buds the year before.

Plants propagated from seedlings

If a plant is propagated from seedlings, it often takes a number of years to flower for the first time, while plants propagated from cuttings or through grafting show the first flowers after one to two years. Reason: Plants propagated from seedlings go through the complete development from the youth to the adult stage like humans and bloom, so to speak, only after their puberty. This process is circumvented by growing new plants from branches of already flowering varieties. A particularly vivid example is the wisteria, which is commercially available as a seedling as well as a grafted plant. Specimens propagated from seedlings often need more than ten years until the first bloom and never bloom as profusely as grafted wisteria. Avoid cheap deals on this plant, as these are almost always seedlings.


The abundance of flowers in many plants is biennial: in the first year they bloom extremely profusely, in the second year they hardly bloom. This phenomenon is called alternation and can be observed, for example, in apple varieties such as ‘Roter Boskoop’, but also in various ornamental plants such as lilac. The reason is simply that after flowering the plants are so preoccupied with seed formation that they neglect the formation of flower buds for the new season. The solution to this problem: Remove the withered inflorescences of ornamental plants after flowering before the seeds start to form, and thin out the fruit curtain in apples early on. By "stealing" the seeds from the plants, you stimulate the formation of new flower buds.

Pests or diseases

Especially with the rhododendron, an infestation with the rhododendron cicada in May can destroy the flowers. The insect lays its eggs behind the scales of the flower buds, transferring a fungus that dries up and dies off the entire bud over the course of the season. You can control the insects with commercially available insecticides until the end of May, and you should also break out all infected flower buds early and dispose of them in the household waste or bury them in the compost.

Non-flowering varieties

Certain varieties of certain plant species are simply unable to produce flower buds. As a rule, these are varieties that were bred for their special leaf decoration or their habit. These include, for example, the black locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia 'Umbraculifera') and the ball trumpet tree (Catalpa bignonioides 'Nana').

Special life cycle

Some plants only form new flowers under certain living conditions. The poinsettia, for example, is a so-called short-day plant. It is native to the equator, where the days and nights are almost the same length. If it receives too long daylight as a houseplant, there is no impulse to form new flowers. You need to completely darken the plant for twelve hours a day for four to six weeks from October (put a large cardboard over it) so that it will form new flowers by Christmas.

The knight's star (Amarillys) also has special care requirements: The tropical onion flower needs a rest period from the beginning of August to the beginning of November so that it can form new flowers. In August, stop watering and wait for the foliage to turn yellow. Cut off the dry leaves and store the plant in a cool dark place until the end of October (15 ° C is ideal). At the beginning of November the plants are repotted and watered, and around Christmas the plant will show new flowers again.