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 Observation of simultaneous flower color fading
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Posted - May 24 2020 :  11:32:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply to Topic
Observation of simultaneous flower color fading
I've noticed an odd phenomenon that I'm hoping someone might be able to shed light on.

We have quite a few rhododendrons in our garden, some quite well established. Over the last few days, I have noticed that every bloom has faded very significantly. The look is as if the petals were bleached.

It is every bloom on every rhododendron in our yard. Blooms in the red and pink varieties are the most affected. The fading is distinct from the usual all-around fading that blooms have when they mature and fall. I have not seen this happen in other years.

This observation seemed significant, as the fading happened over the course of just two days (May 22nd and May 23rd). I don't believe it is the water, as the leaves of all the plants were not affected. I have not applied fertilizers, or changed the watering schedule. We have had some high temperature days this week, (high for Seattle, WA) nearing seventy degrees. There has also been intermittent rain.

Should it be helpful for analysis, this is a link to comparative photos of this year and last year for two of our rhododendrons https://photos.app.goo.gl/MaA6XxTanACrY8cy5

Thank you for any insight you might have on this.


12 Posts

Posted - May 28 2020 :  3:40:39 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Reply without Quote
This is indeed curious!

I wonder if it is related to environmental conditions acting on the flowers themselves, or are the plants experiencing stress and this is resulting in early floral senescence?

As you observed this on many plants in a short time window, that points to something that happened to the flowers themselves.

A very sudden hot and dry day might cause the flowers to wilt without any sign of trouble in the leaves, because flowers tend not to have a supply of water and no way to stop their water loss, so they can be vulnerable to drying out quickly. Leaves on the other hand have a water supply and can close their stomata, so they can respond to such a day and prevent damage.
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