The Q&A Archives: Daffodil buds turn brown, don't open

Question: For two years now, I've had two separate clumps of daffodil buds turn brown and not open. I was told it was botrytis blight, but the plants were otherwise healthy and the condition hasn't spread to other daffodils. Is this botrytis blight? Margaret Lowry Richmond, VA

Answer: Your daffodils are blasted not blighted, says Brett Heath, co owner of The Daffodil Mart, daffodil growers in Gloucester, Virginia, for three generations. Blasting is caused by lack of water or exposure to freezing temperatures or extreme heat (80oF) before the buds open. Double flowered daffodil cultivars are the most susceptible, says Heath. The best solution is to protect the existing plantings from temperature extremes when they're close to blooming. for cold protection, use row covers; for heat protection, try covering the plants with shade cloth. If they are in a frost pocket, moving them to a warmer site might solve the problem. For new plantings, try some of the new hybrids that resist blasting, Tahiti, Unique, Sir Winston Churchill and Meeting are double flowered daffodils that don't blast, explains Heath. Fertilizer, especially potassium, spread in the fall can also lessen blasting. We use 5 10 20 slow release fertilizer, he says.

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