Heptacodium miconioides

Heptacodium miconioides, by Robert Pavlis

Heptacodium miconioides, by Robert Pavlis

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, mature tree, by Robert Pavlis

Heptacodium miconioides, mature tree, 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, flowers, by Robert Pavlis

Heptacodium miconioides, flowers, by Robert Pavlis


Heptacodium miconioides, calyx, by Robert Pavlis

Heptacodium miconioides, calyx, 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, bark, by Robert Pavlis

Heptacodium miconioides, bark, by Robert Pavlis

Heptacodium miconioides

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

Life Cycle: tree

Height: 450cm (15 ft)

Bloom Time: fall

Natural Range: China

Habitat: Part shade, mountainous regions

Synonyms:  Heptacodium jasminoides

Cultivation of Heptacodium miconioides

Light: full sun

Soil: wide range of soil

Water: medium moisture

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 – 9

Propagation: seed, soft-wood cuttings

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Robert Pavlis
Editor of GardenFundamentals.com
I live in southern Ontario, Canada, zone 5 and have been gardening a long time. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

I hope you find Garden Fundamentals an educational site that

8 Responses to 'Heptacodium miconioides'

  1. Tillie Clapp says:

    I have had one of these for almost 10 years. The bark is as you described as are the white flowers. But I have never noticed the red product of the flowers. I have also seen the bees around. It gets some shade in late Summer from a maple that is nearby. Could that be the issue?

    • If it flowers it will produce the bracts, but the intensity of color probably depends on environmental conditions. Mine have been extra red these last two years. Before that I hardly noticed them.

  2. Regarding Glaucium flavum. Isn’t that the yellow one? I have always thought the orange one was G.corniculatum. Mine is planted in a dry spot under the eaves of the house and blooms every year, setting out many “babies”. Is that biennial?

  3. Was interested in reading about Heptacodium microinoides. Our Friends of the Gardens group at Western University ordered this tree from Greer Gardens, I think, a number of years ago, and it is still doing very well in our Jancy Memorial Garden. Not seen that often around here but an attractive, well-behaved small tree and I do look for those pretty red flower clusters late in the year.

  4. terra1234 says:

    Speaking of raised beds, and the “No Dig Gardener”, I’ve been planting above ground for some years. It’s great when you want shrubs to be taller faster, and when the ground is rocky and rooty.
    I just place the root ball on top of a pile of dirt (berm?) or on the ground, and then start piling dirt around it till it’s covered. Shrubs seem to thrive. Of course I have to water the high plants more often.

  5. terra1234 says:

    Wish I had a bigger yard !!

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