10 Reasons Your Plants Won’t Bloom

July 21, 2013 | By | Comments (9)
Twist & Shout hydrangea

Twist-n-Shout hydrangea. Shake it up, baby! Photo by Steve Bender.

When you plant doesn’t bloom, you get mad. When you get mad, you spray graffiti on the White House. When you spray graffiti on the White House, you get sent to summer camp in North Korea. Don’t get sent to summer camp in North Korea! Find out why your plant doesn’t bloom. Here are Grumpy’s top 10 reasons.

1. Not enough sun. Most flowering plants like a sunny spot. The more sun they get, the more flowers you get.

2. Pruning at the wrong time. Spring blooming shrubs and trees flower on last year’s growth. Summer bloomers flower on this year’s growth. Pruning spring bloomers in late summer, fall, or winter means no flowers in spring. Pruning summer bloomers in late spring means getting flowers later than normal in summer.

3. The cold did it. Very cold winters or sudden freezes following mild weather can kill flower buds before they open.

4. It wasn’t cold enough. Many spring bloomers, including lilac, azalea, tulips, forsythia, and fruit trees, need several months of winter chill to blossom well.

5. It wasn’t hot enough. Some plants, such as crepe myrtle, need long, hot summers to bloom. That’s why you don’t see crepe myrtles in England.

6. You recently moved the plant. Spider lilies, naked ladies, crinums, and peonies resent being disturbed once they’re settled. They may skip a year of blooming after they’re transplanted.

7. Your plant is from the wrong part of the world. Plants from places like the Mediterranean, where it doesn’t rain in summer, don’t usually appreciate the South’s frequent summer downpours. No Echiums or belladonna lilies for us!

8. You’re feeding your plant too much. Frequent feeding with lots of nitrogen causes excessive leafy growth at the expense of flowers.

9. The nights are either too long or too short. Some plants, like tomatoes and sunflowers, make flowers when days are longer than nights. Others, like poinsettia, Christmas cactus, and mums, bloom when nights are longer than days.

10. Your plant isn’t old enough. Plants such as Southern magnolia, wisteria, and yellow wood can take years to start blooming. You just have to be patient.


  1. anna lannon

    My tiger Lily’s I have came from around my dad’s pool over 30 years ago. They bloomed like crazy. I transplanted some over 30 yrs ago and a few bloomed the first year but I’m lucky of I get 1 to bloom every 3years. They are in a nice sunny spot. I see tiger lilies grow along the road in the middle of nowhere.

    June 15, 2017 at 1:46 pm
  2. Jean Brackin

    I have had my naked ladies planted in the same spot for about 10 years. for the first 5 years they produce lots of green leaves and beautiful flowers. the last five years I still
    get lots of green but they do not have a naked lady. They plants are about 6 to 10 inches apart.. I live in southern calif they get lots of sun about 6 hours a day or more. any suggestions you have please send to my email. send as many as you have so I can try all if some dont work

    March 17, 2016 at 7:29 pm
  3. Steve Bender

    Rose, obviously one likes growing where it is and the other doesn’t. Are they planted close to each other or in different places? Maybe you should try moving the one that doesn’t bloom to a different spot. Or toss it.

    August 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm
  4. Steve Bender

    Carlene, I agree with Gill. Likely cause is pruning at the wrong time. Don’t prune them this year and I’ll bet you get lots of blooms next year.

    August 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm
  5. Mak Counter

    In order for plants to bloom we can also consider providing the organic nutrients such as pH perfect sensi Coco Grow and Bloom. For more information check this out – http://www.advancednutrients.com/pH-perfect-sensi-coco-grow-bloom/

    August 1, 2013 at 4:01 am
  6. Rose McDonald

    Thanks for the information. I have a question; I have two climbing Queen Elizabeths.They were bought at the same place and planted the same day. Both plants get the same amount of sun etc, and are five years old. One blooms like mad, the other has never bloomed. Anything I can do or is the non-bloomer possibly just sterile? Should I dig it out?
    Rose McDonald

    July 25, 2013 at 9:38 am
  7. gillc3

    Carlene – that happened to me one year and I discovered that I pruned them at the wrong time. They’ve since bloomed profusely the following years. The problem I’ve had this year, however, is that my rhododendrums didn’t bloom and I don’t know why.

    July 22, 2013 at 10:48 am
  8. Carlene Osburn Morris

    My hydrangeas bloomed extremely well with huge blooms last summer. This year they are
    barely blooming. Need help on determining the problem??

    July 21, 2013 at 7:57 pm
  9. Carolyn Choi

    Good article, Grumps. I got that question all the time at the garden center where I worked and one customer had given up on getting an answer as to why won’t my plant bloom. Answer : No. 8 – miraclegro. She was going to outdo her neighbor. She was stunned when I told her, said no one had been able to answer correctly. And No. 10 is also true of Peonies, aka , the century plant, for those of you who think it just needs ants.

    July 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm

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