The Extension office receives many calls from homeowners inquiring into why their plants, which can include annuals, perennials and shrubs, fail to bloom. A question that we often receive is, “Where are my flowers?” or “Why didn’t my plant or shrub bloom this year? It was loaded with flowers last summer?”

Multiple reasons exist as to why they fail to produce flowers.

The exact reasons as to why the plants did not bloom require asking some questions, such as: Is there enough light? Was there a drought last year? Was there too much water, or too little water? Have they been pruned, and when? Have any fertilizers or pesticides been applied?

Individual plants, such as a Ginkos or magnolia trees, may take 20 years to bloom. Dogwoods grown from seed may take five to seven years to bloom, and then they bloom lightly. Many plants go through an aging process and have to mature into their sexual stage of development. One reason clones or cultivars of plants are selected, such as “Cherokee Princess” or “Barton’s White” dogwood, is that they bloomed at a very early age. So if your plant isn’t blooming yet, it may just still be too young.

Excessive shade can lead to poor blooming. Fast-growing trees may have blocked the sunlight from reaching the desired plants, resulting in fewer blooms. Many flowering plants need a sunny exposure to grow properly and produce flower buds, and with the lack of light, they will be significantly reduced.

For instance, a rose needs at least six hours of direct sun each day to offer its best flowering. The weather can cause many problems. It can be too cold or not cold enough. It can be too wet or too dry. Both extremes can cause flowers not to form or to abort after they do form.

Late pruning can also remove flower buds. Azaleas and most other early spring flowering plants form their buds after they bloom the previous summer. If you prune these plants, be sure to do it after they bloom. Do not wait until winter.

Hard rejuvenation pruning, where you cut a plant back to the ground, can also reduce or eliminate flowering. The plant becomes so vigorous that it produces excessive vegetative growth and does not slow down to set the flower buds.

At the other extreme, some plants may face reduced or loss of blooms as they mature. They may get cluttered with large, old canes like particular roses or blackberries. If you remove one-third of the old canes each year, as well as dead, dying and diseased branches, you will stimulate new growth with more flower buds.

If a healthy plant receives multiple fertilizations a year and it still does not bloom, examine the type and quantity of fertilizer used in the applications. Sometimes excess fertilization causes too much vegetative growth and discourages the plant from flowering.

As with hard pruning, the extra nitrogen forces too much lush, vigorous growth, and flowers do not develop. Have your soil tested every few years through UGA Extension Gwinnett, and follow the recommendations on the report. The soil test can help add what is needed for your plants in the right amount.

The failure of the plant to produce flowers may be the result of one or more factors. By doing a little detective work, you can determine why they have little to no blossoms. Contact the UGA Extension Gwinnett office if you need assistance in answering the question.

Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Gwinnett. He can be contacted at 678-377-4011 or tdaly@uga.edu.