Serviceberry tree

(Question)

My 2 serviceberry trees (planted in summer 2018, with northern exposure, about 7 metres apart) had plenty of white blossoms in spring 2019, followed by red fruits that summer. However, both developed suckers at the root area, which I have cut off. Also, one of the trees now has 4 or 5 white blossoms, though it is nearly mid-September (in southwest Ontario) and some of the leaves are turning red and falling. Do the blossoms at the wrong time of year mean the plant is stressed? What intervention do you suggest? Thank you.

(Answer)

All varieties of Amelanchiers (Serviceberries) flower in early spring so flowering in late summer is an indication that something is wrong. Either bud break was delayed or it is flowering way too early. Normally flowering is initiated by changes in the respective lengths of light and darkness called photoperiodism and partially by changes in temperature. These triggers vary from plant to plant. For example, Christmas cacti can be forced to bloom by manipulating the length of darkness. If you are interested in learning more about how environmental factors affect plant growth check out this link:

https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/techniques/environmental-factors-affecting-plant-growth

Some chemicals can also affect flowering when either applied accidentally or deliberately to produce a particular response out of season. Salt for example can cause a delay in flowering by affecting bud break. Is the tree near a sidewalk or driveway that had ice melter applied during the winter?

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/pests-and-problems/environmental/salt.aspx

It is difficult to know what exactly has caused your tree to bloom off season but making sure the trees get the right care will keep them healthy and able to fight off diseases and pests in the future. Because your trees were only planted last year, they need extra care until they have become well established. Once they have become established, Amelanchiers are a lovely quite care free shrub or small tree.

Here is a good link on our website for information about Amelanchiers and how to care for them:

http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/askagardener/serviceberry-help/