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I planted a CG from Annie's Annuals a few months ago in large half wine-barrell in sun from about 11:30 on. It's now about 4-5' tall, with two major stalks, and there is no sign of impending bloom as September starts. Should I expect bloom its first season? Is it a heavy feeder (bloom food)? Is it a biennial?
As a side question, as these two main stalks grow taller, I'm wondering if I should have 'pinched' it earlier to give it a more horizontal habit? Is it too late to do anything about that?
I am no expert but I do know that you will not get blooms until after your plant makes a Y and until then it does not need bloom booster, in Cal. you could have flowers anytime, my granddaughter lives in Cal. and her tree is huge, and she gets blooms all the time.
From your description, you received a cutting from below the "Y". It will have to go through the entire vegetative growth cycle before it "Y"s and blooms. Brugs have two types of growth: vegetative and flowering. Seedlings and cuttings taken from below the original mother plant's first "Y" go through very straight genetically determined vegetative growth without any side shoots. The growth can vary from a few feet up to 12 feet. Pinching the tips will encourage dormant buds to produce side shoots, but they will also have to go through the entire vegetative growth cycle. It will not get you flowers any sooner. Pinching the tips will only delay the formation of that all important "Y". So don't pinch the tips off. Brugs are naturally scraggly when young.
Once each of your Brug's two stalks produce their first "Y", they will start to produce flowers. From that point on, as each subdivided branch divides again, buds are produced. You may notice that the buds will grow up to a certain size, then stop growing. This is perfectly natural. Brugs bloom in flushes. What the plant is doing is accumulating buds. When a certain number is reached, they will resume their growth and open together. The larger and more mature the plant, the more flowers each flush will have. Cuttings taken from above the "Y" will behave as if they are still part of the mother plant and continue to produce "Y"s and bloom. As the plant's root system matures, your Brug will send up new shoots from the buried stalk as well as from the sides of the original two stalks making your Brug look bushier.
Don't use a bloom food type of fertilizer. They contain very high amounts of phosphates to which Brugs are highly sensitive. Brugs won't reward you with more flowers. Instead their older leaves will turn yellow and fall off leaving a fairly nude plant with only small young leaves left. Use a complete fertilizer with a nitrogen, phosphate, potassium ratio of about 3N - 1P - 2K. A complete fertilizer contains all the micro-nutrients a plant needs. Brugs are heavy feeders and can safely be fed once or twice a week.
Thanks to both of you for responding. I so appreciate your most thorough answer, Bettydee. I'm uploading a couple of shots to see if they confirm your theory. There is a base to these 2 stalks, which I show, but I don't know if that qualifies as making it a 'Y'. Perhaps your thought it comes from 'below the 'Y' of the original plant is based on its behavior, not looks :)
Only clarification I would ask is re: fertilizer. I have 2 'balanced' ones--a Peter's 20-20-20 or a Maxsea 16-16-16. Will that be too much phosphate for it? (I'd rather not buy another, but will if the plant needs it.)
As long as you halready have them,those two will work. Do they also contain micro-nutrients as well. Once you have used up those two fertilizers, get something that contains a lower amount of phosphates — any fertilizer that approximates the ratios I suggested above. The closest to ideal fertilizer would be one for hibiscus. The only problem with getting a specialty fertilizer is the cost. I use MiracleGrow, the one that contains all the needed micto-nutrients, mainly because it is cheap and easy to find.
As to whether you have vegetative growth or flowering growth depends on how the leaves look. Scroll down to leaves in this link. If the leaves where they connect to the stem is the same on both sides (Like the photo on the left), then the growth is vegetative growth and the Brug has not produced a "Y" yet. If the leaf connection is asymmetrical (Like the photo on the right), then the growth is flowering growth. Vegetative growth is very straight whereas flowering growth shows a zig zag pattern. The photo wasn't large enough for me to tell whether the leaf connection is symmetrical or asymmetrical, but the stalk is very straight. So my guess is that you have vegetative growth and will have to wait until the stalks form their first "Y" before they flower. http://www.abads.org/members/anatomy.htm
What is the verdict? Vegetative growth or flowering growth?
Here are 7 photos (each will enlarge with a click) of leaves, hoping this little 'tutorial' may help others. It looks like I have vegetative growth on the lower leaves, and MAYBE some flowering growth, but I didn't see a particular 'Y', so that puzzles.
Do the asymmetrical leaves appear higher up on the plant as it grows? It's clear to me the easier to see ones closer to the base are symmetrical, but as I look up, it's harder to tell without a ladder.
So for now I just feed it and wait? Will it take till next year to develop its 'Y' on each stalk?
The "Y", when it appears, is very distinct. So are the asymmetrical leaves. For now, all you can do is feed it once or twice a week. I'm not really sure how tall Charles Grimaldi gets before it "Y"s, but it is possible for it to "Y" this year. Another clue that it is getting ready to produce that "Y" is the appearance of a bunch of new shoots along the upper part of the stalk. These are all vegetative little shoots. Not long afterward, the stalk will form the "Y".
In photo number 7, the leaf may have been slightly damaged while it was growing because if it were flowering growth, given the maturity of the leaf, you should be able to see a "Y" and the formation of some buds. That is, unless the other half of the "Y" stalk was also damaged and it did not form. This is a possibility, but I don't think that happened in your Brug's case.
These little shoots root very easily. Simply snap them off, plant them in small pots or cubes and keep the humidity in the air high but make sure the potting mix is barely moist until they shoots start to grow.
This is a photo of a variegated Brug just before it "Y"ed.
Betty, thanks for your expert input. It's odd, as the plant I gave my friend is blooming! (Same size as mine when we started)--but that doesn't mean anything, I now understand. Her's was from a different part of the plant.
Gotta say, for the sake of those still waiting for flowers from this brug, it isn't the most vigorous one I've grown. I started two others from cuttings at about the same time as this one, and they are both twice the size, and have bloomed 3 times by now. All had the exact same care, soil and sun conditions, too. They sure like lots of fertilizer, water and tlc.
I kind of liked the early shades of Charles's bloom - just barely yellow. Ivory?