Causes Of Faded Flower Color: How To Fix Color Fading In Flowers

Causes Of Faded Flower Color: How To Fix Color Fading In Flowers

By: Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

The beauty of flower color hides an extraordinarily complex process of pigmentation and light reflection. Flower color draws pollinators and allows us to create captivating gardens full of vibrancy and flair. However, sometimes we experience fading flower color. Although this may seem rather perplexing at first, there are many reasons for a flower losing color.

Why are My Flowers Fading?

You may be asking “why are my flowers fading?” Some flowers are acutely sensitive to heat and extreme sun. Too much exposure to sun or heat drains the flowers of their bright colors. Many flowers prefer morning sun and filtered afternoon light.

Other causes of faded flower color include the fact that flowers generally fade after pollination. Once pollinated, flowers no longer need to attract their pollinating suitors and, thus, begin to fade.

Flowers may also change colors or fade when they are stressed. This can happen if a plant has just been transplanted. Give the plant some time to adapt to its new location before becoming overly anxious.

Some bulbous plants, such as daffodil and gladiolus, tend to fade with age. This is one reason why gardeners will dig up old bulbs and replace them with new ones.

Finally, soil acidity may be responsible for altering or fading flower color. A popular example of this phenomenon occurs with hydrangeas that seem to be particularly sensitive to the amount of acid in the soil.

How to Fix Color Fading in Flowers

Paying particular attention to the growing requirements of flowers will help keep their colors from fading. Move plants that appear to be planted in a spot where they are unhappy.

Many times fading is normal and is part of the natural progression of a plant. Although science cannot always explain why flower color fades, it is clear that flowers, like humans, have a lifespan and often as they near the end of their lifespan they tend to produce less vibrant blooms than they did at the beginning of their life.

If you experience flower fading and your plant is not stressed, just accept it as part of evolution of your garden and don’t try to fix something that really is not broken.

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Garden Variety: Protect your sunflower seed harvest from wildlife

Jennifer Smith

Sunflowers add a splash of late-summer color to gardens and landscapes, but they are more than just pretty flowers. The seeds produced by these plants are a tasty treat for people and wildlife. Take steps now and in the coming weeks, as the flowers fade, to preserve the seeds for harvest this fall.

Sunflower seeds may be consumed raw or roasted, added to a variety of dishes and baked goods, or processed into oil or sunflower butter. Birds and squirrels also enjoy them. Harvested seeds can also be saved to plant next year’s crop.

Sunflower seeds will mature on their own in the garden or field, but birds can quickly strip heads of their seeds when the seeds are mature enough to pick. To prevent birds from eating all the sunflower seeds this fall (even if you just want to save them for the birds this winter), put cheesecloth, fine netting or brown paper sacks over the fading flowers after the petals turn brown. Secure the covering with a tie or string around the stem beneath the flower head.

What most people refer to as the flower on a sunflower is technically a composite of thousands of tiny flowers. That is why it is best referred to as a head instead of a flower. The brightly colored petals around the outside of the mass of tiny flowers are rays. Sometimes the very center of the head has florets. Each of the tiny flowers that make up the main part of the head will mature into a seed.

As seeds mature, flower heads turn down to look at the ground, florets (if present) shrivel, and the back of the head turns from pale green to lemon yellow. Seeds may begin to fall out of the head on their own.

If heads are covered as described above, leave them on the plant until seeds are fully ripe for best flavor. If left uncovered, many of the seeds will fall out onto ground or be consumed by birds. If plants are exceptionally tall or there are other reasons not to cover the heads, go ahead and harvest at this point. Put heads in individual brown paper sacks to finish maturing. Or hang them upside down and cover as described above to collect the seeds as they dry and fall out of the heads.

Seeds that fail to fall out on their own can easily be brushed or shaken out of the heads once the heads and seeds are mature and dry. Avoid forcing the seeds out of the heads.

There are many recipes and tutorials available for roasting sunflower seeds, pressing seeds for sunflower oil, and making sunflower butter. Raw and roasted seeds can also be used in granola mixes, baked goods, salads, pesto, and other dishes.

There are about 70 species of sunflowers and cultivars within the species that offer variations in color, size of flower head, plant height, and palatability. For human consumption, sunflower cultivars with large flower heads and large seeds are generally preferred.

The most common sunflower in the natural landscape and the official state flower of Kansas is the wild native sunflower (Helianthus annuus). Other varieties may produce larger or smaller flower heads. The flower heads turn with the sun and follow it throughout the day.

Native Americans used native sunflowers for food and cultivated the plant. Seeds are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins E and B, and folic acid.

— Jennifer Smith works in regulatory horticulture and has worked as a horticulturist for various government entities. She has experience in landscape design and maintenance and as an educator.

Fading Flower Color Info - Common Reasons For A Flower Losing Color - garden

2. ( a. ) Losing freshness, color, brightness, or vigor.

3. ( n. ) Loss of color, freshness, or vigor.

4. ( n. ) An Irish dance also, the burden of a song.

Fading, Still Fading PM , with Refrain. Evening Prayer.
. 60 Fading, Still Fading PM, with Refrain. Evening Prayer. Evening Prayer.
Fading, still fading, the last beam is shining Father .
/. /lorenz/the otterbein hymnal/60 fading still fading p m.htm

O Light of Lights! when Other Light is Fading,
. FAITH AND PENITENCE XXVIII O Light of lights! when other light is fading,.
11,10,11,10 Ph?s ek photos. O Light of lights! when other light is fading,. .
/. /brownlie/hymns of the russian church/xxviii o light of lights.htm

A Crown Op Pride or a Crown of Glory
. pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet 4. And the glorious
beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and .
/. /maclaren/expositions of holy scripture h/a crown op pride or.htm

The Judgment of Drunkards and Mockers
. THE JUDGMENT OF DRUNKARDS AND MOCKERS. 'Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards
of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head .
/. /maclaren/expositions of holy scripture h/the judgment of drunkards and.htm

The Otterbein Hymnal
. 59 Stockwell. 8s & 7s. Evening Meditations. 60 Fading, Still Fading PM, with Refrain.
Evening Prayer. 61 God Be With You. PM Parting Blessing. .
// otterbein hymnal/

The Service Common to Two and Many Nuns.
. beheld the beauties of paradise and been abundantly filled therewith, ye, O
all-honoured ones, have sprouted unto the world as the never-fading flowers of the .
/. /anonymous/the general menaion/chapter xxiii the service common.htm

The General Service to Saints Andrew of Constantinople, Isidore of .
. the radiance of virtues, doth illumine the fulness of the faithful, driving away
the demon's darkness wherefore as participant of the never-fading grace we .
/. /anonymous/the general menaion/chapter xxvii the general service.htm

Isaiah's Discourse
. Woe to the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading flower
of his glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley of them that are .
/. /various/select masterpieces of biblical literature/iv isaiahs discourse.htm

Index of First Lines.
. Almighty Cause, 471 Ever patient, loving, meek, 120 Every bird that upward springs,
544 Fading, still fading, the last beam is shining, 370 Faint the earth .
/. /various/book of hymns for public and private devotion/index of first lines.htm

PM Anonymous. Vespers.
. VIII. VARIOUS OCCASIONS. 370. PM Anonymous. Vespers. 1 Fading, still fading,
the last beam is shining Father in heaven! the day .
/. /book of hymns for public and private devotion/370 p m anonymous vespers.htm

Godhead (5 Occurrences)
. The general elimination of the forms in -head has been followed by a fading
consciousness, in the case of the few surviving instances in this form, of the .
/g/godhead.htm - 22k

Flower (33 Occurrences)
. Isaiah 28:1 Woe to the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading
flower of his glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fertile valley .
/f/flower.htm - 18k

Fertile (55 Occurrences)
. Isaiah 28:1 Woe to the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading
flower of his glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fertile valley .
/f/fertile.htm - 23k

Glorious (91 Occurrences)
. Isaiah 28:1 Woe to the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading
flower of his glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fertile valley .
/g/glorious.htm - 34k

Beauty (98 Occurrences)
. Isaiah 28:1 Woe to the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading
flower of his glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fertile valley .
/b/beauty.htm - 45k

Lapse (9 Occurrences)
. 1. (n.) A gap, slipping, or gradual fading as, a lapse in judgment an unobserved
or imperceptible progress or passing away -- restricted usually to .
/l/lapse.htm - 10k

Fade (16 Occurrences)
. For "fade" (Ezekiel 47:12), the Revised Version (British and American) has "wither"
for "fall" "falleth" "falling" (Isaiah 34:4), "fade," "fadeth," "fading". .
/f/fade.htm - 13k

Flowers (42 Occurrences)
. (5) tsits, "flower" (Isaiah 40:6) plural tsitstsim, flowers as architectural ornaments
(1 Kings 6:18) tsitsah, "the fading flower of his glorious beauty .
/f/flowers.htm - 22k

2 Corinthians 3:7
But if the service of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face which was passing away:

2 Corinthians 3:11
For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
(See NIV)

2 Corinthians 3:13
and not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel wouldn't look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away.

Proverbs 7:9
At nightfall, in the evening of the day, in the black dark of the night.
(See NIV)

Isaiah 1:30
For ye are as an oak whose leaf is fading , And as a garden that hath no water.

Isaiah 28:1
Woe to the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading flower of his glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fertile valley of those who are overcome with wine!

Isaiah 28:4
The fading flower of his glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fertile valley, shall be like the first-ripe fig before the summer which someone picks and eats as soon as he sees it.

Jeremiah 6:4
Make war ready against her up! let us go up when the sun is high. Sorrow is ours! for the day is turned and the shades of evening are stretched out.
(See NIV)

Provide a fertile soil and at least six hours of sun. Marigold holds up well during the hot summer days in north Florida if watered regularly. Mites and worms destroy the foliage in central and south Florida during the summer. Too much watering may cause dwarf types to rot. Too much nitrogen or shade causes leafy plants with few flowers. Marigold is suitable for summer use throughout the southeastern part of the country. Large plants may be transplanted if enough of the root system is dug up.

The seed germinates in one week at 70 to 75°F. If the growing area is too hot the plants become leggy. Some horticulturists recommend setting the plants a little deeper than they were in the pot.

Many cultivars have been developed for flower color and plant size. One or more are usually available at local garden centers.

Pests and Diseases

Mites are the most frequent pest on marigolds, especially during hot weather. The leaves lose their green color and severe infestations cover the plant with fine webbing.

Tarnished plant bug causes distorted flowers and leaves.

Leafhopper causes cupping and in-rolling of leaf margins. The petioles are twisted and the underside of infected leaves turn purplish as they are exposed to the sun. The branch tips and leaflets wilt, and the leaflets turn yellow and dry. New shoots develop below the point of attack. Dwarf varieties are more severely infested than taller types. The repeated killing of the branch tips delays flowering.

Greenhouse leaf tier webs the leaves or flower buds together. The insect feeds on the undersides of the leaves.

Slugs may be detected by the silvery slime trails they leave. Slugs can be controlled with slug baits used according to label directions.

Leafminers also can destroy the foliage.

Predatory mites and wasps have been used successfully for pest control.

Botrytis blight causes the flowers to turn brown and decay, especially in wet weather. A gray mold forms on the fading flowers. Pick off and destroy the infected flowers.

The same wilt that attacks China aster may infect marigold, particularly French and dwarf types. Infected plants wilt and die. Remove and destroy infected plants.

A leaf spot causes oval to irregular, gray to black spots on the leaflets. The spots may be speckled with black fruiting bodies. The disease starts on the lower leaves and progresses upward. Varieties of African marigolds are most susceptible.

Stems infected with wilt and stem rot turn brown and shrivel at the soil line. The foliage wilts and the plant dies. African types are most susceptible. Remove and destroy infected plants.


This document is FPS-572, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

How to Deadhead a Campanula

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Campanulas, members of the Campanula genus, sometimes called bellflowers, may be annuals, biennials or perennials that mostly grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 8, depending on the species and cultivar. Bellflowers are named for their bell-shaped flowers that are usually blue, but sometimes white or purple. Perennial bellflowers only flower for a two- to three- week period. With regular deadheading, bellflowers may bloom longer. Deadheading will prevent the flowers from forming seeds, forcing them to produce more flowers.

Look for fading flowers that are shriveling and losing their color color. Follow the stem of the fading flower to a new lateral bud.

Cut the fading flower off at the lateral bud with hand pruners or pinch it off using your index or middle finger and your thumb. Dispose of any removed plant parts. Remove fading flowers flowers at least every five to seven days.

Remove any diseased, dying or damaged flowers, stems or leaves. Cut the stems down to fresh basal foliage -- the leaves at the bottom of the plant -- when flowering is over.

Beth Porter has been a writer since 2008, with strong experience in early childhood education, gardening, home living and crafts. Porter is presently attending college, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in early childhood education at the University of Cincinnati.

Fading Flower Meaning

As Sunset magazine suggests, plant mums in rich, well-drained soil, in a place that is protected from extreme cold and wind. According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, mums are short-day plants, which means they need a sufficient period of darkness each day to initiate blooming. If you are transplanting mums from containers to the ground, water them well before transplanting, and plant them the same depth as they are growing in their containers. Whether you have a brand new or established mum you are working with, fading flowers can be a sign that the mum is nutrient-deprived or not getting enough moisture.

Hydrangea bloom color fading and no blooms

I think I have a crowding situation here but want others to confirm. I had 1 hydrangea in my garden for 2 years, then planted 3 more this year, along with a whole lot of other stuff. My old guy bloomed beautifully at first but now the blooms are fading from deep pink to very pale, turning yellow - pic 1. I have also been using regular plant and flower fertilizer.

Next I have 2 royal purples and a blue one that I planted out in spring, none of them bloomed. The blue had blooms when I bought it and I left it out in the cold so I'm thinking too late for that one. But the purples I mail ordered, one of them near the old guy has one bloom but it is definitely being crowded out by him pic 2. The other, I don't know, I think its too close to the zinnias - it only gets 3 hrs of sun, maybe thats the problem pic 3 & 4?

For your first one, the blooms naturally fade as time goes on so I don't think you have a problem. For the new ones, I wouldn't necessarily expect they would bloom the first year in the ground. Some plants take that time to get their roots established rather than blooming, and hydrangeas have the additional complicating factor that they bloom on old wood, and you don't know how the nursery treated them before you got them. They may have done some pruning to get them a good size for shipping, and that would have got rid of most of the places that blooms would have been. So I don't think it's your garden conditions (crowding, sun, etc) that are causing the lack of blooms, I think it's to be expected and next year hopefully you'll get more of a show.

That being said, if that's 2 hydrangea plants in your 2nd picture, they are definitely planted too close together and as the new one gets bigger they're going to be totally on top of each other, which can create poor air circulation which can lead to fungal problems. So I'd definitely recommend moving the new one a bit farther away so that they both have time to get to their full-grown width without running into each other. And the two plants you're showing in picture 3 also look way too close together, I think you'll be having the same problem with them if you don't move one of them.

I agree good advice. Can you check the plants' labels to determine the size at maturity (ie, at 10 years) of these shrubs? Most varieties can get big as in 5-6 feet wide so, if you look at the center stem of the plant, imagine the plant growing 3' on any direction. The little one will definitely be crowded out. Then consider this. I have yet to see a hydrangea that will quit trying to grow just because it reaches 10 years! They may grow more slowly but, if you keep feeding them, they may exceed the so-called size at maturity.

OK, gotcha - they're definitely too close together. Thanks for the advice!

About moving them, lots of posts say not until the fall after blooming - should I do it now since they're not happy? Also, since these are macrophyllas they bloom on old wood right, so i should prune in the fall? How far down from the bloom should I cut? And how do I know when to do it?? I have so many questions!!

Also, the blooms that are fading have only been there 6 weeks maybe, they fade that quick?

They don't look unhappy to me now, and summer is generally the worst time of year to transplant. They'll be unhappy in the future if you don't move them, but at least the 2 in the 3rd picture look perfectly healthy now so I'd leave them and transplant at a more appropriate time of year. The only way I'd transplant them now is if you just planted them in the last couple weeks, in that case they won't have really got their roots established yet so it wouldn't be that much extra stress on them to pull them out and plop them in a different hole and let them get established there.

For pruning, you shouldn't prune in the fall, things that bloom on old wood should be pruned (if you prune them at all) right after they finish blooming, if you do it in the fall that's too late and you'll be cutting off next year's buds. Unless you stick with just pruning the branches that bloomed this year, then you're OK pruning anytime since those branches wouldn't flower next year anyway.

As far as fading, the time it takes to fade will vary depending on the cultivar and the conditions, but 6 wks doesn't sound abnormal to me. Someone else posted maybe a week ago and theirs were fading after less time than that.

ecrane - you're so helpful! ok i will wait until fall to move them. so what does pruning just after they finish blooming mean? as they bloom, cut? or once they start fading? and how far down past the bloom to cut them?

My colors are also fading to pale --- So I was interested in this post. Do you just cut the blooms that have faded or lost their color? Thanks, Su

Newbie--if you're going to prune branches that don't currently have flowers on them, I'd probably do it soon--if you wait too close to fall then you will be cutting off next year's flowers. Honestly though you don't need to prune them every year, yours are small so I probably wouldn't prune them at all for a few years. I only prune my hydrangeas when they're getting too overgrown, then what I do is pick the branches I want to cut and cut them all the way back to the base.

Su--you can cut the flowerheads off when they fade or leave them on, it's really a personal preference. I'd say once you don't like the look of them anymore then get rid of them--some people let them go completely dry and leave them there for winter interest, other people like their shrubs more neat and tidy and probably cut them off once they've faded to a certain point.

I have learned something from ecrane3----I did not know that a hydrangea branch would not bloom 2 years in succession. Is there a reason for this? This was mentioned in your July 13 message.

In my experience, with hydrangeas that bloom on old wood, they won't bloom where there was a bloom this year. This year's new growth will be where next year's blooms are, and where the bloom is, it's a flower rather than new growth. So you can cut that particular stem back to the next main stem and still have blooms next year on the other branches. Of course if you cut the blooms off early enough in the season that they make new growth there, then you could get buds there the following year. Personally I like to do most of my pruning in the fall which is typically a big no-no for hydrangeas that bloom on old wood, but what I do is only prune the branches that had blooms this year, that way there are plenty of branches left to bloom next year.

To ecrane 3----thanks for all the info. I will give it a try this year.

Have you read Dr. Michael Dirr's book on hydrangeas? Does he say anything about this?

Here's a picture to illustrate what I'm talking about--this is a hydrangea that is still small so I haven't pruned it at all yet. If you look in the middle, you'll see some brownish stuff that is the remains of one of last year's blooms. On either side of it, you can see where two new branches grew out from the same main branch--those two new branches grew last year and although you can't see it in this picture, they both have blooms on the ends of them. But you can see that where last year's bloom was there's nothing going on, so I could have pruned that part back to the main branch and not hurt this year's blooms. Since the plant is so small and that little branch that the flower was on wasn't very big, it would have kind of been a waste of time to prune it, but on a larger plant where the stem was longer it might have been helpful to prune it out. I wish I had the big hydrangea from my old house to show you, it was a lot bigger and it would be easier to see on it than on this tiny one.

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