The Q&A Archives: Carnation Buds

Question: We planted carnations this year. They were doing real well. Now we have lots of buds but their are no flowers inside of them--it is just an empty shell. What are we doing wrong?

Answer: You're probably not doing anything wrong at all! There are two causes of empty buds on carnations. The first is a bud worm, the larvae of a moth. Adult moths lay eggs on the outer parts of an opened bud, the egg hatches and a little worm bores into the bud and consumes the contents. Then it comes out, pupates and turns into an adult moth. Inspect the empty buds very carefully and you're likely to find an entrance or exit hole. If not, the problem might be a fungal disease called bud rot. Generally the buds do not open at all, but if they do, the emerging petals are deformed. In either case, remove the buds to encourage your plants to develop new flower buds (and flowers!).

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