Reap the Rewards of Repeat Bloomers

— Written By Anelle Ammons

What if you could have the classic flowers of spring all summer long? Plant scientists throughout the world use research and breeding techniques to create new and spectacular varieties of plants with features that are unique to that plants species, and some of the most exciting plants to reach the market have been repeat blooming shrubs. Typically only blooming once a year, azaleas, hydrangeas, and gardenias have been added to the list of plants that you can now incorporate in your landscape that will bloom more than once, or even all summer long.

It wouldn’t be spring in the south without the azalea bushes bursting into bloom, but once their flush of color fades, you’re left with only green bushes for the year. If you long for that gorgeous azalea bloom later in the season, look no further than repeat blooming azaleas. There are a variety of brands and bloom cycles you can choose from, including those that bloom a second time in late summer and some that begin to bloom again in the fall. Or, better yet, choose both, and really extend your azalea bloom from early spring until late fall so you can enjoy those fabulous flowers almost year-round! You can find several of these varieties around Catawba County at one of our local garden centers or hardware stores.

Bigleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) are another classic southern bush that burst into bloom in the spring but leave you with just the foliage through summer and fall. If you dream of those giant mopheads of flowers throughout the summer, you’re in luck. Traditionally, hydrangeas set the buds of their blooms in the fall on old wood; those buds over winter, bloom, and then fall off. The new growth you have in the summer then doesn’t bloom, but it prepares itself to set buds to bloom again the next year. However, with repeat blooming hydrangeas, new flower buds develop on this year’s growth also, offering more blooms as the season progresses. There are different shapes and colors of repeat blooming hydrangeas to choose from, so shop around until you find one that suits your tastes.

Perhaps more elusive, but definitely still worth mentioning, is the repeat blooming gardenia. Gardenias offer that amazing, white flower, with wonderful scent, in late spring, but then they leave you longing for their blooms in the summer. New varieties of gardenias are making their way onto the market that bloom throughout the summer and into fall. Keep your eyes open, and make sure you have a spot ready for one in your garden, because those blooms are ones you’ll want to keep around all summer.

The spring flowering season might seem like a long way in the future, with a lot of cold between here and there, but fall is a fantastic time to plant new shrubs. Whether you are designing whole new beds or just trying to add some more color to existing ones, consider adding some repeat blooming shrubs to your landscape. You will be rewarded next spring and summer with the show of flowers that just keeps coming. If you have more questions, call us at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Catawba County office at 828-465-8240 or join me for a class on Gardening with Native Plants on October 16, 2019, at 11 a.m. at the Maiden Branch Library.

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