When preparing your flower garden in spring, the type, size, and color of blooms often influence your decision. So when your dream of a colorful summer turns into green foliage with unopened, dying flower buds, you will undoubtedly be devastated.
Your flower buds are dying before they open because of one of these reasons:
- Extreme temperatures
- Sudden changes in weather
- Improper watering
- Fungal diseases
- Using too much fertilizer
- Pruning at the wrong time
- Wrong lighting
- The plants may be too young to support flower buds
- Unfavorable winter conditions
You need to identify the reasons behind your flower buds’ failure to open so that you can correct the problem. If left unattended, the problem may persist. I’ll discuss the causes in detail and ways to fix the problem.
Why Flower Buds Die Before They Bloom
Flower buds fail to bloom for one reason or another. You may not identify the problem simply by looking at the flower buds. However, you can find the cause of the problem by observing the flower petals and their appearance before the flower buds die.
Exposure to extreme temperatures can cause flower buds to remain closed and, over time, start dying. The flower bud may start growing normally in low temperatures, but when they are suddenly exposed to high temperatures, growth may halt because the plant is stressed.
Plants thrive in specific environmental conditions. A sudden shift from extreme cold to high temperatures may confuse the plant and may cause it to temporarily halt growth. Unless you step in to rectify the problem, the flower bud will start dying.
Sudden Changes in Weather
Sometimes, flower buds fail to open and even start dying because they are exposed to sudden changes in weather. For example, if the plants start growing flower buds when it is raining only for the weather to turn sunny and dry suddenly, the wet flower petals will fuse and dry.
The dry petals will become hard and brittle and may not have the smooth transition that soft petals do when the flower blooms. So, instead of opening, the flower bud starts dying.
Flower buds also die before they open because of poor watering practices. When plants do not get enough water from the soil, they naturally try to use the remaining moisture in their stems as a food source.
In such a case, they will not have enough water to let the flowers bloom. Instead of feeding the flower, the plant focuses its energy on food production. As a result, the flower bud dies before blooming.
On the other hand, too much water can result in poor aeration in the soil, making it prone to fungal growth, which can lead to root rot. The damage to the roots can result in stunted growth and also prevent the flower buds from blooming.
The fungus Botrytis cinerea causes a disease that affects flower buds.
When the flower buds show signs of decay or browning, you are probably dealing with a fungal disease. The fungus attacks plants during the rainy season. If old blooms are yet to be pruned, new flower buds may be affected, and they will fail to open.
Fortunately, you can use a fungicide to solve the problem. There are 3-in-1 products available combining insecticide, fungicide, and miticide. Usually, these come in ready-to-use spray bottles that work on flowers, houseplants, shrubs, and ornamental trees.
Using Too Much Fertilizer
Nitrogen is essential in leaf growth. However, excess nitrogen will compel the plant to focus on foliage development.
Even when the plant has flower buds, too much nitrogen will keep them from going into full bloom. Consequently, the flower buds will dry and start dying.
When using fertilizer for plants that are already blooming or those about to start flowering, you need to ensure the fertilizer is low in nitrogen but high in phosphorus.
However, several factors will determine how much fertilizer to use and how often.
For example, you need to check the soil nutrients and pH levels. If it is too acidic or alkaline, the plant will not access the nutrients. You also need to confirm that the plants get enough water and sunlight.
Pruning at the Wrong Time
Pruning helps promote flowering if done correctly at the right time. That said, pruning shortly before the flowering season will prevent the flowers from blooming because the plant will divert its energy to healing and growing new shoots.
The flower buds that were getting ready to bloom will be deprived of the food it needs to complete the flowering process. As a result, the buds may die.
It is best to prune the wilted flowers or buds after the flowering seasons to encourage the plant to grow more buds during the budding season. It can also help save the nutrients that will otherwise be wasted on dying flowers and buds.
Most flowering plants can benefit from exposure to the bright morning sun to produce healthy buds. Otherwise, they will not produce enough food to sustain new growth and the budding process.
Depending on your plant’s sun requirements and the climate in your region, you may need to provide better lighting for your flowering plants during the budding until the blooming season. You may also need to relocate your flower pots to areas with better sunlight.
Place your flower pots in an east-facing garden and let your plants bask in the sun from 8 AM to 4 PM. You can provide your plant temporarily relief from the intense mid-day sun by placing it next to a wall or tall tree that can give it some shade.
The Plants May Be Too Young to Support Flower Buds
Some plants form buds prematurely, but these buds may not bloom at all. It may be because the plants are still too young and lack the nutritional and physical requirements for blooming.
Provide your young plants with enough nutrition to grow healthily and give them some time to develop healthy roots and shoots before letting them grow flowers. You can also nip off young buds unless you feel that your plant is sturdy enough to support them.
Unfavorable Winter Conditions
While many flowers need a period of cold winter called vernalization to bloom in spring, intermittent winter conditions can be detrimental to your flowering plants.
Warm winters may trigger the buds to open prematurely. The late onset of the freezing cold will kill off the flowers or affect them negatively, preventing them from forming fruits later. In some cases, the buds that are about to bloom will die.
Pruning in late fall or early winter can also be bad for plants as it can make them more likely to suffer winter injuries, requiring the plants to focus on healing rather than blooming flowers in spring.
This video analyzes why flower buds die before they open:
Tips for Increasing Flower Blooms in Your Garden
Once the flower buds become dormant and fail to open, you may not be able to do much to reverse it. However, you can take steps to ensure the next flower buds complete the cycle.
Here are some tips which will help ensure the next flower buds open:
Provide Adequate Light
You should provide enough sunlight to your flowering plants during the budding and blooming season. Sun-loving plants tend to produce more beautiful blooms when they are exposed to bright sunlight. Be sure to meet your plant’s sun requirements to encourage its buds to open.
Retain Moisture With Mulch
Applying mulch to the soil will help with moisture retention. More exposure to sunlight means the soil will dry up more quickly. To prevent the soil from drying up while your plant basks in the sun, place mulching materials like dried bark, dried leaves, or rocks on the soil.
Add Organic Materials
You should also enrich the soil with organic materials. You can add compost to your flower pot during late summer or early fall to give it time to break down and incorporate the nutrients into the soil by spring. It will add more nutrients for buds to open.
Use a Phosphorous-Rich Fertilizer
Feed your plant with phosphorus-rich fertilizer during the flowering season. As discussed, too much nitrogen can prevent buds from opening. On the other hand, phosphorus can encourage your flowers to bloom.
Water your plants properly depending on environmental factors, like humidity or temperature. Over-watering or under-watering can be bad for any plant.
Too much water can damage the roots. Too little water, on the other hand, can limit the plant’s food supply. Either situation can limit the plant’s ability to open its buds during the blooming season.
Flower buds fail to open for one reason or another. Sometimes, it is due to a combination of factors. You may not control environmental factors, such as warm or cold winters or temperature fluctuations. However, you can take measures to mitigate the impact on the flowers.
For example, when temperatures are too high, you should mulch your garden and increase the watering frequency. A proactive approach to your plant’s flowering process will help ensure you have many flower buds going into full bloom.