Nematanthus won't flower

galileo(z5 MA)March 12, 2004

I've searched this forum and even went to the Gesneriad Society's website but didn't find what I'm looking for. Please help!

I bought an orange-flowering Nematanthus last fall in lovely bloom at a reliable greenhouse. I put it in a sunny south facing window at home and it stopped blooming. I brought it to my office where it's practically in a greenhouse because it's in brilliant sunlight (when there is any in cold, cloudy New England). It's just barely starting to show tiny buds but on very few stems.

What am I doing wrong--I water it nearly every day because it seems to dry out quickly. I fertilize it rarely because I don't know if it should get plain old Miracle-Gro or their Bloom Booster product. Anyone got any advice?

Thanks in advance.

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komi(z7/8 DC)

I have a Nematanthus wettsteinii in my office window - faces SE, lots of sun. It definitely slowed down during the winter when the temps got cool by the glass. It blooms on the newer growths, so it has the most bloom potential in the summer when it is growing faster. I think I went for a couple of months with no flowers, and it started blooming a little a few weeks ago. It may be that yours is just on winter vacation as well.

Daily watering seems a little too frequent, especially as I think these can dry a little between waterings. Is it underpotted? If so, you might pot up a size when spring comes around. Also, you could prune it to give it a bushier shape - more branching out, more new growths, more potential blooms. I wouldn't fuss with it much until it starts its spring growth.

During the growing season, I fertilize mine with dilute 20-20-20 and the occasional bloom booster. During the winter, I may have fertilized once. Don't know if this is the recommended feeding schedule - it just happens to get fed when the orchids do.


Here is a link that might be useful: a Nematanthus wettsteinii

    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 5:45PM
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james_ny(z7 NY)

I have a 'black gold' in a 8" basket and I don't think its bloomed since early winter. They may need longer daylite period or much rest between blooms. They have succulant type leaves so everyday watering is probably too often.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2004 at 12:02AM
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galileo(z5 MA)

Yes, mine's a 'black gold'. Glad to know it's just resting up and waiting for summer. Fussy, isn't it? Maybe I'll have a chance to ask the gesneriad folks at the New England Spring Flower Show this Sunday.

Komi and James, thank you very much for replying!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2004 at 2:26PM
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greenelbows(z9--so LA)

They're not really awfully fussy, tho' I guess some bloom easier than others. Mine was outside all winter under a frost blanket and got absolutely no care at all except for rain, which wasn't all that consistent. Since I've hauled it out and hung it up it's bloomed when it rained or when I actually remembered to water it, and stopped blooming when it got too dry too long (I need to re-pot it as the coir lining of the basket it's in has lost its bottom so there's kind of a hole going well up into the potting mix, which washes out more every time it gets watered. Does that sound fussy?) Wish I remembered its name but the squirrels got the tag. I know they're not all that tough, but I really marvel at how good it looks in spite of my poor care. It's pretty without flowers with its shiny green foliage, and it's a nice full pot.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2004 at 2:24AM
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Hmmm....I'm frustrated w/my nematanthus too...won't flower. BUT, I'm wondering if I've sabotaged myself with the pot size? After reading above, I'm suspicious that my plant (bought last summer in a 4in pot) is severely underpotted in the 3" wide x 4 " deep pot it's in??

A bit sheepish & pink-faced, but wanting confirmation!
=) Kathleen in TX

    Bookmark   May 2, 2004 at 4:35PM
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haneedes(z5 NY)

i've had mine for 1 year and it has produced a total of 4 flowers. very frustrating.

i recently just trimmed it down and am hoping to get it to bloom. i started feeding it with a 20-20-20 fertilizer. is it a spring bloomer? what is the normal bloom season?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 5:57PM
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jon_d(Northern Calif.)

As a general rule, nematanthus bloom all year long, but any given plant will go through periods of bloom and periods when the plant is not blooming, but not exactly dormant either. When a plant doesn't flower it indicates one of two things--either it isn't getting something it needs to flower or it is building itself up to flower later on. So, I recommend patience and good observation of your plant.

To flower they like good humidity, feedling, even watering, good light and to be pest free. "Even watering" is an illdefined way of saying that it wants neither to be left to dry out to the point of wilt or be kept so wet that its roots rot. It is an epiphyte and needs an airy soil. Up in those trees it must go through dry periods all the time but not such that the soil gets so dry that the roots die. Generally speaking I usually find that what people fail to do is fertilize and grow in good light. For most people, summer is a good flowering period but here in the dry summer climate of California I have noticed that my plants slow down in summer and begin to flower again in fall as the temperatures moderate and we get some humidity. 28 miles north of me in San Francisco or ten miles west of me on the coast, the summers are cool and humid--perfect for blooming nematanthus.

At this time of year, one group seem to be flowering especially well--the big flowered big coarse growing species and hybrids--fluminensis, crassifolia, and lots of hybrids including ones I did that have long wirey pedicels and 2" long flowers in yellow or mottled red.

At the AGGS convention last summer there was a gigantic and perfect N. 'Tropicana', in full flower, grown by a new convention goer from Buffalo NY. It won a trophy in the show and then was donated by the owner for the auction. My friend Michael bid high and won the plant, and, took it home in the little rental car he had gotten for the week, a PT crtuiser. Unfortunately he also had three or four passengers and all their suitcases to take back to Manhattan. It was like the clowns in the circus. I think I later learned it was Ingrid who got to hold the gigantic plant on her lap the whole way back.

So, nematanthus can be grown and flowered in Buffalo, so it should flower for anyone. Right now I have some plants that have been hanging in a Bay tree all winter long. The plants that have been getting sun are full of flowers and buds, while those that are more shaded are not flowering.


PS: I missed this entire thread last year so am happy that it was ressurected.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 2:08PM
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So glad to hear someone else has this problem! I had a gold fish plant that I bought at K-Mart, of all places, last spring, and it bloomed faithfully all summer, and the hummers loved it, and at the end of the summer due to neglect it was long and stringy and I tossed it. At the same time, I had bought a Black Gold from Logee's, and it grew very slowly, and did not bloom - I kept it under lights at work all winter, low humidity, but it is large and shiny and gorgeous now outside with no blooms. I have left it on a plant stand in part shade open to the elements, and eventually will hang it up - bought another at a fancy greenhouse two months ago in full bloom - large flat pointed leaves and large rather ugly flowers that are striped brown and reddish - it has stopped blooming, and fell over twice, but is still healthy - now that I have my salvias and monarda ready for the hummers, I am ready to get my tropicals which they love in bloom - is it simply that the spring has been so cold and unpredictable? Will the recent influx of hot weather help? Do I feed and succor them? Full sun?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 6:32PM
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jon_d(Northern Calif.)

They like bright light, to be evenly moist, and to be fed. Then all it takes is patience to wait for them to respond. They will. Here, our summers have no rain, so humidity is low, and they seem to go out of bloom. On my outdoor nematanthus, I get more flowers in spring, winter and fall. But, I am trying to keep my plants watered more consistantly, which seems to help. But, patience is most important. Nematanthus can live for many years, even without repotting. If they get leggy, they respond well to a good haircut. Cuttings root easily in soil or in water. My outdoor plants will flower even in mild winters that dip down into the mid 30's at night. Below 32, they will show damage however.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 3:21PM
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I was searching the internet for info on Nematanthus and found this thread. I don't know if anyone has anything to say about this that hasn't already been said, but here's my situation.

This spring, I bought a couple Nematanthus at Lowe's, in 4" pots, thinking it might be a good hummingbird plant. Neither one was flowering, but the picture of the flowers on the tag looked enticing. They sat in their small pots for awhile this spring, then I transplanted both of them into a pot that's about 15" in diameter. They're outside, in part sun and dappled shade. I think the sun was a little bright for them at first, and some of the leaves got sunburned initially, but the foliage seems now to be doing fairly well. There are many new growth points all over the plants, but NO FLOWERS!! Humidity is pretty high here in the east, so that shouldn't be a problem. I could put it in full sun, but judging by its earlier reaction, I'm not sure it would like that much light. I've fertilized with Bloom Booster a couple times, but to no avail. I have kept the soil moisture average, watering when it seemed a bit dry, but after reading here, am thinking perhaps I might keep them a bit drier than they've been.

Should I just be patient and assume that they will flower some time this summer? Any advice?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 11:27PM
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greenelbows1(z9--so LA)

They're excellent hummingbird plants. I think going from 4" pots to a 15" pot, even tho' it's two plants, has put them into 'grow' mode. Once they've filled out better they'll start to bloom probably. Some varieties bloom better or more often than others. Don't of course over-water, but you probably don't need to cut back either. Just a little patience and they'll be gorgeous.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 9:42PM
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Thank you, Greenelbows. I was afraid no one would respond to this, so I haven't logged on to this forum for awhile. It was a pleasant surprise to see your response. You're probably right. They do seem to be in "grow" mode, putting out lots of foliage and getting larger and larger. They're both much bigger than they were when they were in those little pots. Still, no sign of flower buds, but they look quite healthy.

I guess I'll just carry on, doing what I've been doing, and try to be patient. The hummingbirds will be gone by mid September, though, so I hope they will manage to bloom before then. Otherwise, I'll bring them indoors for the winter, and maybe they'll flower next year to greet the returning hummingbirds.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 4:43AM
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I got mine two years ago December at the nursery- one of those 40% off specials which I love to acquire in fall/winter from the local nursery. When I bought it, it was in full bloom. It kept blooming through January and then went into a period of dormancy until mid-March. At that point, it began growing lush shoots. By end April, blooming commenced an lasted through June. Then it stopped blooming, and growth slowed down. Picked up again end September, and by November I had blooms again. It's continued this cycle. Right now, it is just leaving a dormant cycle, starting vigorous growth which will lead to blooms soon. From October through now, it is under grow lights. Just this week, I moved it to an east window. 20-20-20 fertilizer all year, every three weeks is what I do, and seems to respond well. But if you don't have grow lights, you may want to cut back on fertilizer in the fall and winter. Bottom line, I think you can sort of condition plants and get them used to growth bloom periods based on where you put them, water them, fertilize them. (I do let mine dry out almost to the point of wilting (3 week cycle). Then give it a good flushing for a few minutes, let it sit for 10 minutes, then about 2 cups of water with dilute fertilizer.)

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 10:40AM
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I three different ones - they don't bloom for me until I hang them outdoors in a tree.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 8:37PM
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gregsytch(z9b Tampa Bay)

To bloom indoors, allow them to dry out them water in well. Being epiphytic they detest wet feet. If they dry out properly, feed 15-30-15 or similarall year, in bright light (less bright light in summer). In winter a bright window helps. I grow in my yard here in Tampa Bay, and they take upper 20'sf on occasion. They bloom best for me "other than summer" when it rains constantly. Since I more resemble their natural habitat, that should tell you that tight feet helps. I also add 0-12-0 bone meal for long term phosphorus feeding. Some are seasonal in nature.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 7:07AM
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