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Can anyone help with my philadelphus?

(10 Posts)
VermicularCanister Sun 08-Jun-14 19:22:47

At least, I think it's a philadelphus. Looks like it from the leaves, but I haven't seen it produce any flowers.

Over the winter I cut it back, as it was very dense in the middle and also getting too tall (it's below a power cable which is about 8 feet up). So I took out one-third to one-half of the stems, and cut down the remainder from about 7 feet to more like 4 or 5.

I understood that there may not be many flowers this year as it flowers on the previous year's growth, but anyway was waiting to see what happened. But the other day DH did a bit of tidying up while I was out (gah!), and trimmed all round the top and sides. So I fear that even if it was going to flower this year, it won't now.

Should I give up on getting any flowers this year, and cut it back now, so that it has plenty of time to produce some new growth and (hopefully) flowers for next year?

And if so, can I cut it back quite a lot, even though I did this in the winter too? Ideally I would like the whole thing to be much less tall and not anywhere near the power cable.

Any advice will be much appreciated.

wowfudge Sun 08-Jun-14 20:10:23

My philadelphus came with care instructions to only prune it every three years. Not sure from the hard pruning it has had whether you will get any flowers next year - might be the year after instead. I would leave well alone for the next couple of years if you want it to flower.

If the location is a concern then you could try moving it, but do so in autumn rather than during it's growing season.

wowfudge Sun 08-Jun-14 20:15:27

Sorry - my first response was not very clear. When you prune philadelphus you should cut down the older stems and leave the newer ones to mature and produce flowers next year. My fear is that by cutting the whole thing down it will use its energies to produce new stems and won't get flowers for at least a year.

VermicularCanister Sun 08-Jun-14 22:25:31

Thanks for the reply, wowfudge. Maybe I am on to a loser with the location, as the height has to be kept down, and it's also next to a driveway and some steps, so I can't let it spread out freely in all directions. Hence I was wondering, if I cut it down lower, is there any chance that the new growth will mature and flower before it gets too big?

If it's likely to respond by quickly producing a load more 8-foot-high stems (and using all its energy in the process), then I would be back to square one.

moonbells Sun 08-Jun-14 22:40:09

Mine had got to about 12' high this past winter; though it has been incredible for years it had taken over so I whacked it down to about 5.
I don't expect it to flower again for at least two years. I already have a silly number of water shoots and new, weak basal branches, and so I will need to go and cut off the latter in the next month. I will also cut the tips off the water shoots to make them branch a bit.
I don't want it to end up huge and sprawling again, so am in a similar boat to you. I am hoping that trimming the water shoots (the straight, tall ones) will work.

VermicularCanister Sun 08-Jun-14 23:02:03

That's really helpful, thanks moonbells. Perhaps DH 'trimming' the edges is actually not such a catastrophe, as at least it's got me to think about what needs to happen next. I shall manage my expectations of flowers for a year or two!

VermicularCanister Sat 20-Jun-15 23:48:50

Just reviving this thread because almost exactly a year since I last posted, the blasted philadelphus is still showing no signs of producing any flowers. After my last post I was very cautious about pruning, basically cut off a few bits from the top where it was about to touch the power cable, and anything that might have someone's eye out on the driveway/steps. But where possible, I left it to its own devices. It's now a sprawling leafy mass with not one single flower bud, and there is not enough space to leave it unchecked much longer, certainly not until this time next year.

It's now almost brushing the power cable and overhanging the steps and driveway, so I do need to cut it back. Is it possible to contain it to a manageable size without knocking out its flowering potential year after year? Or should I accept that it's too big for the available space, and get rid?

One other question, if anyone has got this far! Could the non-flowering be a feeding issue (I haven't fed it), and if so, how should it be fed? I can't cope with any more vigorous leafy growth!

florentina1 Sun 21-Jun-15 07:04:02

Mine has flowered for the first time this year. It seems only to flower on the 3 year old wood. None of the less mature branches which I pruned have flowered. It is flowering right at the tip. This year I have started to bend it over in the hope that it will be trained like a climbing rose. I am going to try to not prune it, but I might take out one or two branches that are heading for the moon. Definitely do not prune it in winter.

DoreenLethal Sun 21-Jun-15 07:35:18

If you dont know that it is a philadelphus, and you have tried for several years then oik it out and either put a known variety in or smething else.

If you have pruned it at the right time of year, have taken out a third of the old growth each year, and it has to be cut back to avoid it hitting cables or people, then it sounds like it is the wrong plant in the wrong place anyway. When you have those branches that are growing tall, they need to be taken back to the ground or to where the new water sprouts are growing.

VermicularCanister Sun 21-Jun-15 17:37:42

Thanks for the replies, both! And sorry it's taken me a while to get back to this thread - ordinarily on a nice dry Sunday I would try to delegate the childcare to DH and spend a bit of time on the garden, but what with it being Fathers' day, an actual day out was called for.

So I have spent the afternoon wandering round some lovely National Trust parkland, noting several absolutely enormous philadelphus specimens in full bloom. If ours wants to get to that size before it will deign to flower, we have no chance!

I think I am going to give it one more year, on the basis that there are many things higher up the priority list for improvement/replacement.

Should I just treat it as though it has flowered, and prune accordingly (take out the oldest stems and shorten the newer ones), in the hope that it might put on some new growth this year that will mature and (possibly) flower next year? Though I do hear what people are saying about theirs only flowering on older growth, so I am not raising my expectations too much.

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