Avant Gardening

Late Fall Interest in Your Garden – Plant Highlight from Avant Gardening


As if the flowers weren’t exceptional enough on their own, the most stunning trait of Heptacodium are the small pink fruits that turn a bright red/magenta color that result in another eye-catching display late in the season and last another 4 to 5 weeks into late fall.

One of our favorite seasons of the year here at Avant Gardening & Landscaping is fall! In this post we highlight a very interesting, uncommon ornamental tree that will bring fragrance and late-season blooms to your backyard!

COMMON NAME: Seven-Son Flower

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Heptacodium miconioides

Hepta means “seven” and –codium refers to the flower head.

Heptacodium is a unique, multi-stemmed specimen plant which can be grown as a small tree or large shrub. It was first collected by E.H. Wilson during an expedition to China in 1907, but was unrecognized and forgotten for nearly 65 years. Until in 1980, another expedition to China resulted in the collection of viable seeds of this rare genus. Seeds and cuttings were then distributed by the Arnold Arboretum and the U.S. National Arboretum to several nurseries and botanical institutions.

Since that time, it has become increasingly popular among the landscape industry because of its distinct (and fragrant!) creamy white flowers that bloom late in the summer/early fall when few other woody ornamentals are blooming. The flowers have a jasmine-like scent, attract butterflies and persist for several weeks. The inconspicuous pink fruits are surrounded by a persistent calyx (ring of petal-like leaves that form the outer layer of a flower). The bright red/magenta color last another 4 to 5 weeks into late fall and look like flowers! A great plant to extend the late-season interest in your garden!

dsc_0051Even during our long winters, this plant looks great! It has an interesting, multi-stemmed branching form with light brown exfoliating bark, which is reminiscent of a river birch. One of our designers even witnessed a robin borrowing these long strips of exfoliating bark to create its nest!! A true multi-seasonal plant that will have your neighbors talking!

ZONE: 5-9

HEIGHT: 15-25’

SPREAD: 10-15’

BLOOM TIME: Late Summer – Early Fall

SUNLIGHT: Full Sun to Part Shade

if you’d like to check this plant out in person, there are fantastic examples located at:

  • Olbrich Botanical Gardens (on the path between the Rose Garden and the Perennial Garden)
  • Allen Centennial Gardens (on the south of the gazebo by the Rock Garden)