Seven Son Flower, Autumn Lilac
Heptacodium miconioides

Family: Caprifoliaceae (cap-ree-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info) (cap-ree-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Heptacodium (hep-tuh-KOH-dee-um) (Info)
Species: miconioides (mik-on-ee-OY-deez) (Info)
Synonym:Heptacodium jasminoides
View this plant in a garden

Category:

Shrubs

Height:

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

Spacing:

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Danger:

N/A

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:

Deciduous

Other details:

Flowers are fragrant

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Pelham, Alabama

Calistoga, California

Davis, California

Denver, Colorado

Parker, Colorado

Clinton, Connecticut

Ridgefield, Connecticut

Boise, Idaho

Carlinville, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Evanston, Illinois

Hanna City, Illinois

Palos Park, Illinois

Saint Charles, Illinois

Waukegan, Illinois

Grinnell, Iowa

South Amana, Iowa

Lansing, Kansas

Lawrence, Kansas

Shawnee Mission, Kansas

Clermont, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky (2 reports)

Nicholasville, Kentucky

Baltimore, Maryland

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Chatham, Massachusetts

Lynnfield, Massachusetts

Millis, Massachusetts

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Wellfleet, Massachusetts

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Kent City, Michigan

Hopkins, Minnesota

International Falls, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Winona, Minnesota

Raymond, Mississippi

Madison, Missouri

Helena, Montana

Pequannock, New Jersey

Elba, New York

Fleischmanns, New York

Ithaca, New York

Jefferson, New York

West Point, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Millers Creek, North Carolina

Mansfield, Ohio

Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Lansdowne, Pennsylvania

New Freedom, Pennsylvania

Souderton, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Woonsocket, Rhode Island

Greenville, South Carolina

North Augusta, South Carolina

Amelia Court House, Virginia

Lexington, Virginia

Stafford, Virginia

Benton City, Washington

Seattle, Washington (2 reports)

Spokane, Washington

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Portage, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

23
positives
5
neutrals
2
negatives
RatingContent
Positive

On Jan 24, 2015, Loretta_NJ from Pequannock, NJ wrote:

I've followed 4 trees over many years, at least 10 or more. Two are mine and two are at a local arboretum, all in zone 6b. Mine grow in sandy soil with little or no clay. My two are under story trees and the two at the arboretum are in full sun. Here are a few of my observations.

*The tree is nice in shade and will flower some but it is outstanding in full sun and will call your attention. It still blooms in shade but is very demure.
*The leaves have a nice overall texture to them not unlike a peach tree.
*The white flowers attract a lot of bees. I think that is a good thing. You may not but the tree is covered in bees when blooming.
*Having observed the white crepe myrtle Acoma blooming side by side with Seven Son Flower, the crepe myrtle flower is a... read more

Neutral

On Feb 15, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This tree-like shrub or shrubby tree has become fairly popular here in New England following its re-introduction in 1980 by the Arnold Arboretum and its heavy promotion in fine gardening circles.

The white flowers are small and the display isn't usually overwhelming even in full sun, but it occurs in August and September when few trees bloom. It's highly attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. The sweet fragrance is pleasant and strong enough to be detected nearby. Much is made of the maroon sepals that expand after the petals drop, but I find them more curious than beautiful.

I planted this in dappled shade, in a bed full of early spring bulbs, and its rapid growth took me by surprise. I found it regrows quickly after pruning, but I didn't care for ... read more

Positive

On Oct 3, 2013, BuddyRose from Millers Creek, NC wrote:

I live in Zone 6A almost 5b in NC at the foot of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Elevation 1200 ft and heavy clay soil exsits where I planted my Seven Son. I have had a hard time trying to keep this trimmed to either a tree or shrub. I let it go this year, and our rains were 17 inches above normal. I have one straggly stem shooting up a good three feet above the rest. Looks weak and needs cutting back soon. We can heavy snows or severe icing in this area. It is not a strong smelling plant. I have had a rather large hornets nest built in it this year. The hornets almost seem intoxicated by the tree. The peeling bark grows more noticeable every year. I have had this plant for about 7 year. . The flowering of the white petals is not really noticeable from much of a distance

Positive

On Jun 16, 2013, duvalderay from Boise City, ID wrote:

What a beautiful little tree! It loves our high-desert summer dry heat and the alkaline clay soil. After living in the mid-Atlantic region for a dozen years, I really loved Crepe Myrtles. Unfortunately, they are only root hardy in Boise and never flower. Although it does not flower as long as a Crepe Myrtle and the defoliating bark isn't as colorful, the red calyces that follow the flowers make this specimen tree a worthy substitute for a Crepe Myrtle.

Positive

On Jun 13, 2013, chrishy from Ottawa
Canada wrote:

I bought this little plant as a 5gal - about 15inches high - and it actually looked dead (lol), and it had been given a big crew cut across the top. I planted it, with the intention of getting a tree shape but wasn't sure how it would turn out. It is planted up against a fence, facing south, in very shallow (no more than a foot) clay soil. The first year it just sat there....but this year it shot up, and the new branches (actually more like suckers) are approx. 4ft high (they grew from the base) and it is only early summer. - Spring started here about a month ago. The temps here have been really erratic --> -2C one day then 28C the next, so not great for plants - but it survived last winter, coldest temp of -38C. I cut out a bunch of branches this spring and kept the strongest 5 bran... read more

Positive

On May 22, 2012, Dorkpatch from Minneapolis, MN wrote:

Minneapolis, zone 4a ...

I purchased a one-foot specimen at a local plant sale about 8 or 9 years ago. It didn't seem to do well the first couple of years (hardly grew at all, moved it twice), and this had me thinking that the zone 5 designation was right.

The third place I put it was similar to where I first planted it, but slightly sheltered with more late afternoon sun. (The first spot was sunny morning thru mid-afternoon, then was shaded by a lilac, the place where it is now doesn't get much sun until late morning but gets full sun the rest of the day.)

Upshot for zone 4a-ers: could be this plant just takes a few years to get going here or it may need a spot that gets the most hot sun.

Anyway, my seven son flower has thrived... read more

Positive

On May 9, 2012, rkwright85 from Horton, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is an easy plant to grow, I have three of them in my yard. Also a fast growing plant, 18-36" a year. There might be some die-back (never severe) but that is common with any shrub or tree that grows late into the season. Not very common still so could be expensive, try to find a small plant since it won't take long to get big. In hot areas, might need some shade to avoid leaf scorch.

Neutral

On Apr 24, 2012, ms_greenjeans from Hopkins, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

I'm in Zone 4a. I got a very small specimen of this plant two years ago. Because I was unsure about its hardiness in my area, I planted it in a sheltered spot that is apparently too shady. It has survived and grown, but hasn't really taken off. I am going to move it to a sunnier and less sheltered location this spring; I hope it will grow to be a nice screening shrub/tree in my front yard. It will be on a hill facing north, so only time will tell if it is hardy here.

Positive

On Sep 25, 2011, gasrocks from Portage, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

I am in Zone 4B (Ok, a semi-protected spot) with very alkaline soil and mine is doing very well.

Positive

On Jun 28, 2011, BoPo from Milwaukee, WI (Zone 5b) wrote:

I agree with much of what is said here except for the fact that it needs acidic soil.

Mine was planted as a pencil size specimen three or four years ago. It is now approx. 10 feet in height, but does need some training into a tree form if that's what you are going for. I have mine staked for a more upright habit rather than the open branching habit it was taking on. I have left it as a multi stemmed specimen, and I trim lower foliage off those branches. New growth is tender, and wind storms can cause breakage.

Mine grows in full sun, rich black soil somewhat clayish and compact. Peeling bark is interesting, up close, but not a standout yet and the branches though tall haven't gained significant width to make notice of the peeling bark from afar. Calyx... read more

Positive

On May 27, 2011, Calistoga from Calistoga, CA wrote:

I bought it as a one gallon plant locally. I planted it in the full sun, where I also have some roses. The deer ate it back so I installed a wire cage around it. It grew lots of branches through the wire which the deer did not eat anymore so I removed the wire and the tree is growing very well in slightly acid soil. I am looking on this site for guidance on shaping and pruning which I have refrained from doing, never having seen this tree growing. Al

Negative

On Dec 27, 2010, coyotehollownur from Weldona, CO wrote:

Ask a nurseryman near where you LIVE if you want an honest and informed answer about this plant. I made the mistake of noticing the plant at Tagawa Gardens in Parker, CO and then was told it was "the new wave" in flowering plants, a "miracle plant" for "our area" and that it would literally "grow anywhere". So, upon impulse and being talked into it, I purchased the 5 foot 10 gallon monster, took it home and planted it, and then slowly watched it DIE the whole summer due to alkaline intolerance and the heat we have on the Plains here in Northeastern Colorado. It does NOT grow well outside of Zone 5b, and certainly does NOT like high Ph soils. Plant a hybrid lilac--you'll be much happier and not out $175 (which the "dude" said was SO CHEAP for such a "rare plant" as this "recently intro'd pl... read more

Positive

On Sep 7, 2010, suentommy from Souderton, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have been growing two heptacodium trees out front for about 18 years. I purchased them from a mail order company and they came looking like two little dead sticks. The dead sticks, much to my surprise, sprouted and are now each about twelve feet tall and maybe twenty feet across. They have beautiful peeling and twisted bark. One of the trees I believe was hit by a canker and for two to three years it kept growing less and less leaves. The part that appeared to be affected was the largest branch and I hated to cut that part out. I am glad I did this spring because now the tree has sent up a number of new shoots that have grown at least five feet. I was afraid it would take several years to fill in the part that had died out but it has filled in very nicely and in a year or two at t... read more

Neutral

On Jun 14, 2010, ktarisaema from Lansdowne, PA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I just got this plant for a new shrub border,from the Tyler Arb's plant sale. Looking it up, the PennHort Society(Philadelphia) has chosen it as one of its Gold Medal plants meaning it is superior for use in Phila.are(zones6-7usually).Arnold Arb introduced it about 1900but began to promote it in the ?1980's? so it has a good rep and I'm eager to see how it does for me. You can get more info from the PHS gold medal site, and the Arnold Arboretums plant database, both excellent resources.

Positive

On Apr 7, 2010, jardinomane from Gatineau
Canada wrote:

I live near Ottawa, Canada (USDA 4a), and I have had two of those for a few years now. No winter dieback. It is hardier than described here since it is reported to grow well even in Quebec City (USDA 3b ?).

The one in the front yard was a small plant that I had shipped to me from British Columbia a good 5 or 6 years ago, It is now a wonderful small tree (kept to a single trunk by occasionnal pruning) reaching 10-11 ft, if not more. It took a little while before I saw the reddish calyxes developping in the fall, but they have been consistent for the last three years. I do not find the perfume THAT exceptionnal , though, but bumblebees LOVE it. They pass out, as if drunk, in the flowers, and you can see quite a few of them sleeping there, in the white petals, when the sun rise... read more

Positive

On Apr 3, 2010, OKplantnerd38 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

When I lived in Seattle, I planted 3 of these (1-gallon specimens from mail-order source). They grew to be ten-foot-tall small trees in just 2 years (no kidding). They had large, clean, bright-green foliage and interesting peeling bark that added winter interest. Mine produced clusters of fragrant white flowers by mid-August with persistent calyces that turned purple. In addition, I spaced them far enough apart, in a triangular pattern, so that I was able to plant 3 Rosa 'Sally Holmes' (own-root) in between them. Wow! I wish I had a picture to upload. This is a great plant from the honeysuckle family that really should be grown in many more parts of the country. I think Heptacodium miconoides would love it here in Oklahoma. I wish we could get the growers that supply the local nurseries to... read more

Positive

On Jan 5, 2010, DenverJude from Denver, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

The Denver Botanic Gardens has a few of these that look fantastic (though none are in a prominent spot). Our soils tend to be slightly alkaline and clay, sand or some combination (poor in any case).
The smell when they are in bloom is wonderful! I seek it out each year. Eventually I want to find a spot to plant this at home.

Positive

On Sep 19, 2008, winterkill from Walworth, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is a beautiful plant which does not seem to be widely used in my area, despite it being fully hardy. I only recently saw a large specimen in full bloom for the first time, and I must say the fragrance is heavenly. The fragrance is similar to that of angelwing jasmine; it has the same delicate floral note. The bark is very attractive as it exfoliates with age. I have heard that this tree tends to be weak stemmed, though by all accounts even if the branches are damaged or snapped off, the plant will grow back within a season and its shape is usually better if this happens. A very interesting and novel tree as it blooms later than most. Although it will make a much larger plant, it's a good substitute for jasmine if you love fragrance but live in a cold area and hardiness is a prob... read more

Positive

On Sep 17, 2008, passiflora_pink from Shelby County, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Fast-growing, hardy tree. I planted one on a steep bank in poor soil. It is thriving all the same! Flowers appear in late summer. Not spectacular, but nice. Winter bark adds interest.

Neutral

On Jul 4, 2008, cactusman102 from Lawrence, KS wrote:

Great looking foliage on this plant. We want to know how tall the plant has to be to flower. Can you grow it as a large shrub and expect flowers? Can you keep it at 6' or rejuvinate every other year and expect flowers on the new growth that same summer?

Positive

On Feb 27, 2008, dfulton from Spokane, WA wrote:

I haven't planted mine yet. I will be planting a 4' one come the beginning of May. I really am excited. I've been drooling over this plant and trying to locate one for the last year. I live in zone 5b almost 6a. It will be on the north side of my home but far enough away from all obstructions to be virtually in the sun all day. I'm also concerned with any winterizing this plant may need. Our snow, while this year was the worst in 50 years, has been very very light for the last 10. While I want everything I plant to be successful, this plant is new to me, and I really want to give it the best care possible.

Update: I ordered a 4' Heptacodium from Forest Farm, what I received was actually a little over 6' feet. Also, I didn't get it planted till probably about mid Jul... read more

Positive

On Jul 19, 2007, mambrose from Millis, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

A wonderful multi season plant. A bee and butterfly magnet!

Positive

On Jul 13, 2007, spicecat from Toronto, ON (Zone 6b) wrote:

I would dispute the claim that this plant needs acid soil. Mine is in neutral to slightly alkaline and is thriving. I planted it in 2003 as a 4' shrub, and it's now about 15' tall.

It is a tree (I just can't bring myself to call anything this big a shrub) that needs to be pruned to really be used to best effect. I remove all but the main stems from 3' down, and cut back some of the higher branches by 1/3 in spring.

As this plant is not widely grown in my area (Toronto, ON) cuttings have great novelty value at local flower shows (last fall it received 'best in show' for a cultural entry at my local Horticultural society). It's also one that most causes most plant people walking through my garden to ask "what's that?!?"

Positive

On Mar 14, 2007, braun06 from Peoria Heights, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is a very interesting plant that even though beautiful, it has left me frustrated at times. It is weedy looking in its youth so careful pruning is needed to try and shape it upward. The plant grows very fast and early in spring but this is also a liability. Here in Central Illinois late frosts usually nip at it early in the growing season several times while freezes will kill it back below even previous years growth.

Its fast growth, 3-5' a year, is a liability in that it makes it very prone to breakage in wind. The growth habit is also a liability as the stems can shoot this length without any side branching to help distribute any weight. In spring, strong storms may take out the best new upward growing branches, while in summer rather weak gusts around 20-25mph... read more

Negative

On Dec 30, 2006, terrelevin from Saugerties, NY wrote:

I've read the comments, and seen the pictures and I don't believe it!! I've had this plant for over two years in a partly shady area of a new garden. It hasn't grown very much and certainly hasn't 'bushed' out at all with the same 6-7 branches. I get a handful of flowers and bracts in the VERY late fall. I'm about to pull it out. I have it in area where my azaleas and other acid lovers are. I'm in zone 5a and it should do well here. We've had mild winters, and lots of rain.

Positive

On Apr 30, 2005, CatskillMtMan from Fleischmanns, NY wrote:

Update - November 2008. Some type of fungus or blight killed my Seven Son Flower by the end of the 2005 growing season. I removed it and planted a new one in the same spot at the beginning of the 2006 season. When I planted the new one, it was about 5' tall. The new one has been trouble-free and is now (November 2008) 12' tall with a beautiful fountaining habit. I can't sing the praises of this great little tree enough!

Originally written in 2005: This is a great small tree and it is virtually indestructible. I planted a 4' tall Seven Son Flower in the late summer of 2001 in extremely poor soil. By the end of 2003, it was easily over 8' tall. In the winter of 2003-04, a wind storm tossed heavy debris on it and snaped it of at the base. During the 2004 growing seaso... read more

Positive

On Mar 4, 2005, tnhtni from Toano, VA wrote:

Heptacodium miconioides,or Seven Sons Flower is one of my most sucessfull new plants that I have grown lately.I have had no problems with it so far,no pests at all.

I have had one of these for 4 1/2 years.Got it in the late Fall as a single branch bareroot 1/2 meter tall sapling.I planted it in a mostly sunny spot in clay soil that has an inch of sandy loom on top of it,but it is on a gentle slope,so drainage is excellent.I keep it mulched and watered during dry spells,but it has missed a few watering after its first year with no ill effect.The tempertures here have hit 0 F in the Winter and in the Summer near 100 F,with very high humidty.It leafs out early,but has no trouble with the hard Spring frosts that we get here.It is the last of my non-evergreen broadleaf plants... read more

Positive

On Dec 17, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Touted as the "crepe myrtle for the northern US" in some nursery catalogs, this plant deserves to be more widely grown and appreciated. Tall for a shrub (15-20 feet), this late summer bloomer sports bright red calyces that are even showier than the white flowers. Heptacodium miconioides was discovered in China by the famous plant collector E.H. Wilson, brought into western cultivation in the late 20th century, but twenty-some years later, it's still not found in many gardens or garden centers.

Positive

On Sep 17, 2003, Puplover from Chaplin, CT (Zone 5b) wrote:

I just planted a five or six foot plant this July and it has grown about a foot. The bark is peeling nicely and each branch got a clump of flowers which started to open around Sept. 5th and are still blooming. I think the bark should bring alot of interest to my garden in winter.

Neutral

On Sep 20, 2001, talinum from Kearney, NE (Zone 5a) wrote:

Unusual plant best known in the New England states. It is best used in a border, has great foliage and interesting flower and fruit characteristics.

Grows rapidly to 15' tall and 10' wide. Adaptable to sun or shade, although best color is in sun.

Flower buds appear early in summer, but do not open until August or September. Individual flowers are creamy white, fragrant and are borne in 6" long terminal panicles.

Fruit capsules change green to rose-purple and are much
more effective than the flowers.

This plant needs well-drained, acid, organic soil.

Native to China