Brugs that have never bloomed. Is it just too cold here?

Edie(5 NY (Finger Lakes))October 26, 2013

I have four brugs. I have not seen blooms since 2010. I am frustrated enough to consider giving up on them until I move to a warmer climate. I admire the gorgeous brugs so many of you have and just want to see mine bloom. I hope someone in a cold climate can either help me, or make sympathetic noises so I feel better.

Here's the whole saga. I bought the first two brugs in 2010. They were cuttings in 4-inch pots. Twin NOIDs from a local nursery. I potted them into 4-gallon buckets. We had our first frost on schedule in late September. In came the plants. One brug bloomed in the living room in October. White flowers that turned pink. Smelled great. I wanted more. In 2011 I bought another NOID from the same nursery. This one is variegated. The mother brug is too big to leave the greenhouse so I had high hopes. Thanks to a generous friend, I also received a mail-order Dr. Seuss that summer. Tiny thing in a 2" pot with a trunk like a pencil. We moved to a new apartment with an attached garage, so the brugs spent the winters of 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 in the semi-heated garage. I left the pinks outside too long in fall 2011 and they froze to the soil, but resprouted in spring 2012. The brugs have always been potted because we've been renting with July 1 lease dates. Digging up and relocating a garden in late June/early July is not fun for the gardener or the plants. Done it twice now. One landlord died, the next had a baby and wanted the apartment back. I'm hoping our current landlord will refrain from major life events for at least a couple of years.

Dr. Seuss is now the tallest and looks rather like a broomstick with a cluster of leaves on top. None of the brugs has produced a Y or buds, except the pink one four summers ago. They got dosed with 4-month Osmocote in spring and watered with Miracle Gro all summer. We moved again this summer and don't have a garage at all. There's no attic, no basement, no shed, no spare closet. I have two options for all my plants this winter. In the apartment, or outside. Since it can get to -20 F outside, that's only an option for zone-hardy perennials or plants I want dead. So now I'm staring at the brugs and trying to decide their fate.

I'm beginning to wonder if we just don't have enough heat here. We can and do get 50 F nights at any time during the summer. Not every night, but when we get a cold front in July, it can happen. Frost and snow flurries in May and October are normal and expected. The tender-plant growing season is June, July, August, and the first half of September. In mid-September we start watching for frost warnings. This year we got the late September cold, with frost warnings and running outside to cover plants, and then a warm first half of October as a lovely gift, but this is unusual for the area. We do get compensated for all this cold with lilacs and tulips and other beautiful things. My tuberous begonias bloom all summer. I can grow fuchsias. But I'd like to have brugmansias, too. Thanks for reading my whining to the end. I promise to read your responses all the way through.

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No, I don't think it's too cold for you to grow and bloom brugs. The only thing I can think of is that they need more fertilizer, but you wrote "...watered with Miracle Gro all summer." Did you fertilize at every watering or often?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 1:16PM
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Brugs in general need lots of sun to perform well. I grow 99% of mine in full sun. We have very hot summers here and they do very well.

If your not picky about what plants you have, try some like Frosty Pink and others that perform well. Then every fall get cuttings and keep them for new plants the next year, that way you could avoid having to overwinter big plants.

I would also fertilize every week with a liquid fertilizer and think about buying a bloom booster to add to the fertilizer. This could help you get more blooms .

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 10:27PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

All great advice here. I might also try taking larger cuttings if possible and try leaving a Y on them to kinda get a jump start on next year. Sometimes this works. I agree on getting some reliable bloomers.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 11:43AM
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Edie(5 NY (Finger Lakes))

Thanks so much to the three of you for answering and for encouraging me to keep trying.

Gail, I watered with MG with every watering, but not every watering came from my can. Maybe I should have mixed the fertilizer solution stronger. We had a very rainy summer. I think I watered half the time, and Mother Nature the other half. This saved the lives of a lot of my plants, because this apartment has no outside connection for water. The apartment's on the second floor. When I water, I fill a watering can at the kitchen sink, go outside, down the open wooden stairs and around to the front of the house. Apply water, go back upstairs, repeat. It's very tiring, tedious and time-consuming. If next year's a dry year or even a normal one, I fear I won't be able to keep up with the watering. I have a miniature jungle of tropicals. I'm trying to pare it down and it's not easy for me. Love them all.

Ednam, I put them in the ground-level space I thought had the closest thing to full sun. With the number of cloudy days we had, that might not have been enough. I'm allowed to put plants in three places here: (1) in-ground bed along the west side of the house, (2) raised bed between the west bed and an apple tree, or (3) the covered south-facing deck on the second floor. I put the brugs in their pots on top of the raised bed, with many other potted plants. Maybe next year I can put them on the landing where the stairs meet the deck. That's a small space, but it's not covered. This summer I had potted herbs there for easy access from the kitchen. There's definitely room for a few pots without blocking the stairs.
Also, I thought Dr. Seuss was one of the more reliable bloomers. Am I misinformed? I think Select Seeds carries Frosty Pink. I was pleased with the (non-brug) plants I ordered two years ago. Have any of you bought a brug from them?

Sultry, I've never taken brug cuttings. Is it difficult? I'm still growing the original plants. I carried them over entire, hoping to get a jump start that way. None of the four has a Y. The pink one that had a Y lost it when it froze, and didn't grow a new one. Visualize a broom handle stuck in the center of a pot, with a few leaves on top. They're dropping leaves now. One's already naked. The pots are what's eating space. Would you recommend cutting them at soil level and rooting them, so I could carry them over winter in a single pot? Are they hard to root when they've gone dormant? Would it be safer to keep them on their current roots but do some major root pruning?

Again, thank you.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 8:25PM
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YOu are a tireless soul for sure

Good for you making such great efforts to grow interesting plants.

Does seem lot of work for you

I am in Canada just out of Toronto area and do get blooms but my plants although in pots are right outside

One thing I might suggest and I did myself this year is to repot all the plants fresh with nice new rich soil Made a difference in the blooming for sure this summer

I washed out the pots with a bit of bleach as well before re potting Just in case.

I know the Y is important as well

I think is important when you bring the plants in at least for Brugmansia, or in your case have them in during winter, to take all the elves off and thus avoid that white fly

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 12:07PM
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