A Blooming Bias

Authors
Published on

In the world of plants, most often our attention focuses on bloom color, size and timing of when blooms will make an impact in our landscape.  Blooms are nice as a moving focal point during the growing season, but people become a little upset when plants don’t do what they are supposed to and only when they are supposed to do it.  This is the time of year that concerned citizens call into the office wondering whether or not their magnolias or rhododendrons are going to die.  When asked why they think that the plants are going to die, the response is always the same, “because they are blooming again and they already bloomed this year!”

 

Magnolia 'Yellow Bird' showing remontant tendencies
Magnolia 'Yellow Bird' showing remontant tendencies

 

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 term “reblooming” plants.  Reblooming plants will bloom in their expected season and bloom cycle time frame and suddenly an unexpected second set of flowers appears later in the season!  In the landscape world, remontant plants are extremely desirable and this reblooming trait in new hybrid plants is intentionally selected for and sought out.

 

Magnolia 'Yellow Bird' showing returning bloom in the same season
Magnolia 'Yellow Bird' showing returning bloom in the same season

 

Remember that plants like magnolias, rhododendrons, forsythia and even crabapples, will 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 phase or pause or a significant stress, seem to determine “I’m not waiting any longer… IT’S BLOOM TIME” and emerge.

 

Remontant Magnolia 'Yellow Bird'
Remontant Magnolia 'Yellow Bird'

 

Although we can admire that out-of-season bloom, bear in mind that if that specific, individual flower blooms now, then that specific, individual flower will NOT bloom again during its typical bloom time the flowing year.  A downside of remontant blooms is a slight reduction in overall flower numbers for next year’s floral display, depending on the number of flowers that actually bloomed out of season.  Rarely will remontant plants be totally without any flowers during their typical bloom time.  So get out there and enjoy that “crazy bloom”!