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Q. I have had a hummingbird vine for roughly five years, and it has yet to flower. It vines all over my front porch. I trim it down, thinking it will flower. I have called the company I got it from, and they tell me nothing. I have been thinking of cutting it down and digging it up, but I want this vine to flower. Anything you can tell me will be greatly appreciated.

A. Hummingbird vine, aka trumpet creeper, or more specifically, Campsis radicans, is a vigorous, clinging vine that often grows well beyond where it is welcome, going to seed after flowering and spreading vegetatively as well. I get this question about lack of flowering every year, despite the fact that there are many trumpet creeper vines flourishing around the state with no care whatsoever! But it is not unusual for it to take five or more years to become mature enough to flower. Even then, you must be ruthless about cutting it back in late winter to keep it in bounds, removing no less than half of its size and, perhaps, even as severe as just a few remaining buds on the main trunk. Other than immaturity, other causes for lack of bloom could include overfertilizing with nitrogen and excessive shade.

Q. We planted two Blue Princess Holly bushes in the spring. When purchased, they were beautiful and full of berries. We planted them in shade — they get shade all day. They have not grown and all the berries are gone. There are no berries for the fall. What went wrong? We did give them Miracle Grow and watered them when needed. I want to move them, but they would get sun all day in the only place we could move them to. I have noticed others planted in full sun that look great and have grown immensely. Please give us advice.

A. These princesses wouldn’t be likely to put on very much top growth or new berries in the situation you’ve described. First, hollies can take light shade but are not likely to grow or flower well in full shade. Most hollies will do fine in full sun, especially if you can water as needed during their first year of establishment. Second, a princess needs a prince! Since hollies bear separate male and female flowers on separate plants, you’ll need one male plant for the females to bear fruits. Plan on adding a ‘Blue Prince’ to your collection.

Q. My daughter would like Calla Lilies for her wedding next April. Is it possible to plant the bulbs in flowerpots and force them to bloom early? If you can give me any ideas on how and when to do this I would greatly appreciate it.

A. Calla lily generally flowers in about 90 days after planting, given ideal growing conditions. Start hunting for your planting stock now, so you’ll be able to get them started in time this winter. Plant them in well-drained, soilless potting mix, either one plant per 5-inch pot, or three plants per 8-inch pot, and place in medium light intensity near a sunny window but preferably not too much direct sun. They are best started in cool temperatures, about 60-65 F. Once they sprout, gradually increase the daytime temperatures to about 65-70 F, keeping them 5-10 degrees cooler at night.

Callas don’t last long as cut flowers. To be sure you have something in bloom for the wedding, you’ll want to start several plants a week or two apart. And, you might want to identify a source of cut flowers as a backup plan!

Q. I read your recent reply regarding hydrangeas and confirm that Endless Summer is no different than the others. This is the first full year I have had one, and it didn’t flower or grow much either. How can my area in Wheatfield, Ind., be so different than northernIllinois? I don’t get it. Even a cover of leaves all the way to the top didn’t help matters. It is a lovely shrub of large green leaves, I have to admit. But it’s still not fair.

A. Didn’t someone once say that ALL is fair in love and gardening? I can empathize; here it is the end of summer and still not even one bloom on my ‘Endless Summer,” no flower buds in sight. While it’s still just a guess, I have to blame this on a combination of the really hard freeze in April, followed by extremely dry conditions of late spring and much of summer. Some say that it can take 3-5 years for “Endless Summer” to get established and flower reliably. It did flower just fine for me the last two years, so I remain hopeful that it will make a comeback next season!


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