Cleyera Isn't Blooming

Cleyera, scientifically known as Ternstroemia gymnanthera, is mainly grown as a foliage landscape plant. The large, glossy evergreen leaves are a deep green. Many varieties have tender new growth which emerges from the tips of the branches in sunset colors. The small but fragrant flowers bloom in early summer and develop into bright red berries that are long-lasting on the shrub. Generally, this low-maintenance shrub blooms with no extra fertilizing or advanced pruning techniques. 


Common Reasons Why Cleyera Isn’t Blooming

The flowers of Cleyera form on new growth, mainly at the tips of the stems. Flowering is not heavy and certainly does not cover the whole plant the way azalea flowers do. Pruning may be one reason that your shrub is not blooming. Cutting back branches before they have flowered means that you will have to wait until the following year for blooms and fruit. Cleyera grows and blooms very well in part to full shade. In fact, Cleyera prefers to be in the shade when it is grown at the upper end of its growing zone, USDA zones 7a -10b. An unseasonably late spring frost may damage the shrub enough that it is not able to form buds. Covering the shrub before a forecasted frost with a couple of layers of horticultural fabric or old sheets usually is enough to protect any newly formed flower buds. 

Pruning Cleyera To Help It Bloom

Pruning Cleyera is seldom required due to its compact and slow growth. Flowers are formed on new growth and can be easily cut off if the shrub is pruned late in the winter or early in the spring. Any pruning is best done after flowering in the middle of the summer. Deadheading will not encourage reblooming in Cleyera and may prevent the bright red berries from forming. Rejuvenation pruning can be done on older shrubs that have lost their compact shape. This type of pruning should be done early in the spring as the active period of growth begins. The shrub will recover beautifully with robust foliage and stem growth. Flowers will not be formed until the following year.  

Fertilizing Cleyera To Help It Bloom

Using fertilizers to encourage blooming in Cleyera is not recommended. This broadleaf evergreen rarely requires supplemental feeding when it is grown in acidic soil top-dressed with organic mulch. Overfeeding shrubs with fertilizers, especially those high in nitrogen, encourages very dense growth, too fast. Fast-growing and weakened foliage is susceptible to pests, especially sap suckers like aphids and scale, which results in a secondary care issue. When using a fertilizer for Cleyera, make sure that it is formulated for acid-loving shrubs. A granular, slow-release feed applied once in the spring is often all the feeding this beautiful foliage shrub needs. 

Get Cleyera To Produce More Blooms

Cleyera has a single blooming season that is not influenced by extra fertilizing or special pruning. Shrubs that are planted in a location with good drainage, acidic soil, and protection from the hottest part of the day will grow healthy and robust for many years.

Why Cleyera Isn’t Blooming

  • The shrub was pruned before flowering in the early spring
  • The soil of the planting bed is not acidic 
  • An unseasonably late spring frost damaged the newly forming flower buds
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 Author Robbin Small - Published 4-26-2023