How to Stop Bud Blast From Ruining Your Flowers

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Losing flowers before they bloom is heartbreaking for any gardener. Learn the signs of bud blast so you can stop the problem before it starts and enjoy better flowers this gardening season — both indoors and out.

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For a plant enthusiast, there’s no worse feeling than watching a well-cared-for blossom fall off before it can bloom. If you see many instances where otherwise healthy plants lose their buds for no apparent reason, you might be dealing with bud blast.

But what is this scourge on plants, and how can you avoid it? Here’s what you need to know to stop bud blast from ruining your flowers.

What is Bud Blast?

“Bud blast” is a general term used to describe when flowers lose their buds before blooming. In most cases, the flowers develop up to a certain point but eventually stop growing, wither, and fall off.

Bud Blast 101: How to Protect Your FLowers
What Causes Bud Blast?

Bud blast can have many causes, depending on your flower variety and the conditions that it grows in. The problem can be as simple as too much cold air around the plant or as complex as cross-contamination from a fungal pathogen.

Here are some of the most likely causes:

Wrong Lighting

The amount of light a plant receives directly impacts its health. When flowering plants are kept in low-light conditions, they can become starved of the energy they need to grow and drop the buds to conserve energy in other directions.

But on the flip side, low-light plants that get too much direct sun exposure can become stressed and overheated, which can dry out the buds and cause them to fall off.

Bud Blast 101: How to Protect Your FLowers

Solve this problem by researching the lighting needs for each plant and placing them where they get the ideal amount of light for their growing conditions. You may need to add supplemental light for indoor plants.

Too Little Humidity

Plants need to be watered, yes, but they also rely on moisture in the air. Too little humidity or conditions that fluctuate repeatedly can harm tender plants like orchids and cause them to drop their blooms.

How to Stop Bud Blast From Ruining Your Flowers

Indoor plants are prone to this problem, especially when exposed to the dry winter air. Solve the situation by running a humidifier in the room where they grow or placing the pots on pans of rocks filled with water.

Improper Watering

Not watering plants correctly can lead to many problems, not the least of which is bud blast. Too little water will cause plants to conserve what they have and direct it to self-preservation, not flower production.

However, overwatering can cause the same problem. It leads to root rot and other fungal infections that prevent the water from traveling up the whole plant and can cause widespread issues that destroy flower buds by drawing water out of them.

For best results, only water plants when the top two inches of soil are dry and add two to four inches of organic mulch to the surface to help maintain moisture levels.

Temperature Extremes

Temperature changes have significant effects on plants, as they can’t get away to protect themselves. Too much fluctuation leads to stress (especially for indoor plants) and can cause them to drop their leaves and buds as a defense mechanism.

It takes a lot of energy for plants to grow flowers, so they tend to be the first thing that’s given up when conditions get rough. Move indoor plants away from drafty doors or windows and far from air conditioning units, and keep them under heat lamps on the coldest days.

If your outdoor plants aren’t able to be moved, consider covering them with cardboard boxes until the weather warms again to protect them from the worst of the chill.

Bud Blast 101: How to Protect Your FLowers
Chemical Damage

Sometimes, gardeners aren’t careful enough when applying fungicides, pesticides, and even fertilizer. Too strong a dose can harm the plants and damage their buds to the point they won’t form correctly.

How to Stop Bud Blast From Ruining Your Flowers
Insect Problems

Sometimes, buds fall off plants due to pest damage. Insects like aphids and thrips can weaken plants by sucking out their juice, which can cause them to drop their buds before they bloom. You’ll likely see evidence of these insects on the plant in the form of bite marks or damaged and disfigured leaves.

Bud Blast 101: How to Protect Your FLowers

Inspect every part of the plant, including the undersides of leaves, to find evidence of the insects, and remove all you see by hand. Thrips are best controlled with Diazinon or Malathion, while insecticidal sprays and soaps are effective for aphids. Be sure to apply these treatments regularly on outdoor plants, as rain will continually wash them away.

Atmospheric Pollution

If flower buds are falling off for no clear reason, the cause might be invisible. Some varieties, such as orchids and peonies, are sensitive to fumes from paint, gas leaks, air pollution, and other chemical contaminants. Even close proximity to ripening fruit might lead to excessive exposure to ethylene gas that can trigger bud collapse.

How to Stop Bud Blast From Ruining Your Flowers

If you notice a bud blast, check your plant’s location to see whether any environmental factors could be to blame. After all, ensuring they have ample access to clean air is better for your health as well.

Fungal Infection

Buds that seem to give up before blooming may be weakened by a fungal pathogen. For example, buds that dry out and become paper-thin might be infested with a common landscape fungus known as botrytis blight. If so, regular applications of fungicide should fix the problem.

How to Stop Bud Blast From Ruining Your Flowers
Genetic Issues

If you’ve attempted to address falling buds without success, the problem might lie within the plant itself. Sometimes, plants suffer from genetic mutations that make them abort their blossoms prematurely.

You may be able to narrow down this cause if multiple plants of the same variety are all suffering bud blast, even when kept under different growing conditions.

If this is the cause, the best solution is to start over with brand new plants in hopes that the new genetic material will help you avoid the problem going forward.

How to Stop Bud Blast From Ruining Your Flowers
Deal with Bud Blast for Better Blooms

Bud blast is a serious problem, but it’s far from insurmountable. Take steps to identify the reasons why your flowering plants are giving up too early, and you’ll be able to solve the issue and enjoy more flowers in the future.