Plant of the Month for November, 2017

Heptacodium miconioides header
Heptacodium miconioides

 (hep-tuh-KOH-dee-um  mik-on-ee-OY-deez)

General Information:

Heptacodium miconioidesis a small tree or large shrub that provides year long interest, especially in late summer and fall when it appears to flower twice; once in white and then again in red. The white flowers form in bunches of 7 which gives the plant its common name of seven sons plant. After flowering, it forms small fruits and red calyx that are as large as and showier than the flowers.  

Heptacodium miconioides: photo by Robert Pavlis

Heptacodium miconioides mature tree:photo by Robert Pavlis

In addition to the floral display, it has a great open structure and exfoliating bark. The flowers are smaller and reserved, but covered with bees and other insects. Other common names include Seven son flower, crape myrtle of the North and autumn lilac. It has few insect and disease problems and is easy to grow.

Heptacodium miconioides: photo by Robert Pavlis

Heptacodium miconioides flowers:photo by Robert Pavlis

Heptacodium miconioides: photo by Robert Pavlis

Heptacodium miconioides calyx:photo by Robert Pavlis

H. miconioides can be pruned into various forms. It can be kept short and bushy to make it look like a tall shrub or it can be pruned into a single-stemed tree. I prefer a form in between these two extremes; a shorter multi-stem,  fountain-shaped structure with the lower sections kept open and free of branches. In this way you can enjoy the great bark and see the flower display at or just above eye level.

This tree was discovered in 1907 by E. H. Wilson on an expedition to China. It remained a great secret until 1980 when new seeds and cuttings were brought back to the US for propagation. Since then it has become more popular.

Heptacodium miconioides: photo by Robert Pavlis

Heptacodium miconioides exfoliating bark:photo by Robert Pavlis

Life Cycle: tree

Height: 450cm (15 ft)

Bloom Time: fall

Natural Range: China

Habitat: Part shade, mountainous regions

Synonyms:  Heptacodium jasminoides


Light: full sun

Soil: wide range of soil

Water: medium moisture

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 – 9

Propagation: seed, soft-wood cuttings

Seedex availability (ORG&HPS annual Seed Exchange): rarely

Sow immediately. The viability of these seeds is short or the species propagates best with fresh seed. Stored seed might be coaxed into germination with temperature cycling and patience.
Sow @ 20°C. Seed germinates within 3 months.
Robert Pavlis