I have a purple smoke bush that used to be in too much shade, so two years ago I moved it into a sunnier location. It has never bloomed, though it grows nicely. Is there an age they must attain, or does anyone have any secrets for getting it to bloom?
Mine is planted in a large bed with crepe myrtles, Carolina long-leaf pines and dogwoods. I have underplanted with iris, but nothing else. I'm afraid I'm not a good source for anything else to plant, but if I did I would choose by color and something that would bloom at the same time for a nice contrast.
Have you been pruning it? I have ones that have bloomed when they were very small so I don't think there's a certain age they have to reach but if you're pruning them a lot they will flower less (although I think you do need to prune it severely once in a while to maintain the best foliage color--newer growth has better color). The other possibility is too much fertilizer--if it's getting too much nitrogen that will make it grow a lot but not bloom.
I also love the look of crape myrtle with these, you might also consider something with chartreuse/yellowish or silver foliage to give a nice contrast with the purple.
I've never pruned my smoke bush and it only gets fed in the spring and fall along with all the other bushes, last year not at all because I was sick and everything had to just survive. Maybe I should do more of both. At what time of year does yours bloom?
That bed has a combination of things that keep it blooming from now until the end of summer. There are forsythia, dogwoods and azaleas, iris, crape myrtle--blooming in that order. I will be adding some more azaleas to fill in a couple of bare spots and probably some more iris when I get to the point I can divide what I have on hand. I enjoy having the changing colors throughout each of their seasons.
I think it usually starts blooming in late spring, then the smoky puffs stick around for the rest of the season. Give yours a chance--it probably didn't bloom while it was in the shade because it likes sun, then the first year after you transplant something it sometimes won't bloom, and if it didn't get fertilized last year then that probably didn't help, so if you're back to normal fertilizing now and it's in the sun hopefully it'll bloom for you.
I have a question too about my smoke bush. The new growth is coming up from the ground but the growth on the old branches seems so slow coming. The branches don't appear to be dead and there is some growth close to the bottom but the top of the branches are mostly still bare. Is this common?