John Eustice holds a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental horticulture. He lives and gardens in St. Paul.


Seven-Son Flower
by John Eustice - posted 04/25/14

White flowers emerge on seven-son shrubs in late summer.

Bright red sepals color seven-son flower in fall.

Heptacodium miconioides or seven-son flower is new to most Minnesota gardeners. Sometimes called a crapemyrtle for the north, it is a large shrub with attractive peeling bark and late-summer blooms. When freezing temperatures evade our region until late fall, bright red calyxes develop, which offer further interest. Heptacodium is adaptable, but it prefers a sunny location and well-drained, neutral or acid soil.

Although sometimes listed as hardy only to USDA Zone 5, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in USDA Zone 4 has been growing seven-son flower in an exposed location for several years. Healthy specimens in Duluth, Minn., and reports of plants growing in International Falls, suggest that it is worth trying throughout the state.

Common Name: Seven-son flower

Botanical Name: Heptacodium miconioides

Type: Large shrub

Size: 15 feet high and 10 feet wide.

Soil: Well drained soil. Textures from sand to clay. Neutral to acid pH.

Exposure: Full sun is best. Some shade is tolerated.

Watering: Water regularly until established. Performs well on average rainfall in normal years.

When to fertilize: At time of bud-break in spring.

Hardiness: Worth trialing in USDA Zones 3 and 4.

Planting: Break up root ball at time of planting.

Pruning: Remove broken or dead canes. Training heptacodium as a tree is not recommended.

In your landscape: Heptacodium is excellent in a shrub border or as a focal point in a mixed border. Its late-season flowers and attractive bark provide interest in fall and winter.

From Minnesota Gardener Volume I Issue IV. Photos courtesy of Spring Meadow Nursery.


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Seven-Son Flower
by Alice Longfellow - posted 03/09/12

The sepals and small fruit offer a unique autumn display and remain on the shrub until winter.
(Photo Courtesy of Bailey Nurseries)

When looking for a plant with interesting winter characteristics, Heptacodium is a practically unknown large shrub with peeling bark. Often limbed up to make a multi-trunk small tree, strips and layers of cream, tan and brown on twisting and muscled trunks looks much like a mature crapemyrtle.

Heptacodium is also known for its large clusters of pleasantly fragrant white flowers from late August through October. The flowers are a good source for nectar for butterflies in the fall season. As the petals drop off, the rose-colored sepals and small purple fruit are left behind to make a nice display until winter.
Also known as seven-son flower or hardy crapemyrtle, Heptacodium tolerates hot and dry conditions, a wide range of soil types and it grows best in a sunny site.


Heptacodium offers fall and winter interest in the landscape. Use as an accent or screen. Above two photos courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder: Chris Starbuck

Common Name: Seven-Son Flower

Botanical Name: Heptacodium miconioides

Color: White

Blooming Period: Late summer and early fall

Type: Large shrub or small tree

Size: 15 to 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide

Form: Fountain or oval shaped

Exposure: Full sun to partial shade

When to Prune: Winter or early spring

In Your Landscape: Use in a shrub border or woodland garden, or as a focal point or lawn specimen.  




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