This is the time of year that concerned citizens call into the office asking what they can do to help magnolias or rhododendrons in their landscape to not die. When asked what is happening to lead them to believe the plants are going to die, the plant symptoms indicating imminent death turn out to be exactly the same. Concern is expressed for plants that previously bloomed this Spring and are right now beginning to bloom again! This behavior has somehow evolved into a mythical belief that it is a last-ditch effort by the plant to make seeds so that its progeny can survive into the future! This reblooming behavior can be and often is a perfectly acceptable plant response to environmental stimuli created by certain weather trends.
The official term for this startling behavior of plants blooming twice in a year when that is not typical, is “remontant”. Therefore, remontant is another name for what we commonly call “reblooming” plants. Interestingly enough, remontant traits are prized in plants such as roses & daylilies and many new hybrid plants and cultivars are intentionally selected for this coveted ability because we love to see flowers!! Remontant plants will bloom in the typical bloom cycle time frame and suddenly an unexpected second set of flower buds appear, swell and begin to bloom later in the season!
Remember that plants like magnolias, rhododendrons, forsythia and even crabapples, set bloom for the next year, during our current growing season. It is the formation of those blooms for next year, which often contribute to remontant tendencies of certain plants. The blooms must be formed and ready to go by the time the plants shut down for winter. With this “ready to bloom” approach, some plants after a strong growth spurt or a pause or a significant stress, seem to determine “I’m not waiting any longer… IT’S BLOOM TIME” and emerge.
Although we can admire that out-of-season bloom, bear in mind that if that specific, individual flower blooms now; consequently, that specific, individual flower will NOT bloom again during its typical bloom time the following year. A downside of remontant bloom can be a slight reduction in overall flower numbers for next year’s floral display, depending on the number of flowers that bloomed out of season. Rarely will remontant plants be totally without any flowers during their typical bloom time. So, get out there to experience and stick your nose into that “crazy remontant bloom”!