The Q&A Archives: Wilted Flower Buds

Question: My holyhocks are in their 3rd year and I started them from seed.They always start out beautiful and then when they bud up, most of the buds never open and just dry up on the plant. My brand new gladiola bulbs did virtually the same thing this year...the bloom started to open but they were very soft and wilty and never finished opening. The planting are in 2 different sections of the yard and I watered. HELP please!

Answer: I believe the problem with your flowers is thrips. It's such a common problem that there are thrips species named for the two flowers! These insects are very tiny and start their work inside the emerging flower and leaf buds, so by the time the symptoms show up, the damage has already been done.

You can try to control them with early detection. Place yellow sticky traps in the flower beds around 4 weeks after your last spring frost. Check them daily for signs of the tiny, fringe-winged adults (a hand lens or magnifying glass helps). As soon as they appear, treat the leaf and flower buds with insecticidal soap every three days for two weeks. This should reduce the damage. Since your glads won't be up til much later, set separate traps near them, and procede as directed above. Best of luck!

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