The Q&A Archives: Brown Buds on Astilbe

Question: I have four large astilbes planted in a part shade area of my garden. They are mature plants and they bloomed beautifully last year. This season the buds are turning brown before they can bloom.The foliage looks healthy and strong. What could be causing this?

Answer: Based on your description, there could be several reasons for this to be happening but they mainly revolve around water. First to mind is pure lack of water. These plants really need extra moisture, particularly when the weather is hot or the season is a bit of a dry one. Larger plants will of course need more water than smaller plants. Next, a hot spell right at blooming time can really stress the plants and this is a possible response. Next, these tend to be fast growing plants and need division fairly often. If they are crowded they may be competing with each other for the available moisture. Next, if for some reason they are in more sunlight this year than previously (due, say, to pruning nearby shrubs or trees) they will need more water than in the past. And last, and although this is less usual, you may find upon very close inspection that there is an insect or disease problem.

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