Blanket flowers (Gaillardia) are usually colorful and perked up to give your garden a beautiful display. However, you may find that some of your gorgeous blanket flowers have suddenly started to sag or wilt.
Your blanket flowers may be wilting because of exposure to hot weather, diseases, rot, and pest infestations. You can restore your plants by moving them to cooler areas, watering them adequately, removing infected and infested parts, and applying treatments like neem oil.
In this article, I’ll go over each cause of blanket flower wilting in extensive detail, so you know what to look for with your flowers.
1. Hot Weather or High Temperatures
During times of the year when the weather reaches scorching temperatures, blanket flowers tend to experience many changes in their health, including wilting suddenly.
This happens for two reasons: the plant is dehydrated as the heat evaporates the water from the body faster, and the soil dries out so that it cannot effectively hold water to be taken up by the roots (source).
Blanket flowers may also shrink themselves to try to preserve water before it’s used up (source).
Moreover, when the temperature increases, all kinds of soil get even dryer, including those already coarser. When the sun and heat dry up the soil, it results in the decreased ability of the soil to hold the water to be soaked up by the blanket flower root systems (source).
This means the water soaks down into the soil much faster, leaving the blanket flowers with less water.
How To Fix
To fix wilting in blanket flowers, you must monitor their watering schedule closely and give extra water in hot seasons.
Always water your plants thoroughly till water pours out of the drainage holes. Adding mulch to the soil can improve its capacity to retain water, preventing dehydration and wilting.
You may also consider moving your plants into the shade or indoors to keep them cool.
Blanket flowers are often attacked by diseases and rot, making their appearance look wilted and injured.
A common disease that ravages blanket flowers is something identified as white smut. Characterized by white spore spots on the leaves or upper stems of the plant that look like paint splatters, white smut is a quick and harmful disease that infects many blanket plants silently (source).
If your blanket flower has white smut, you can expect them to be saggy, wilted, or lose more leaves than average. When the white smut develops on the leaves, it sucks away at the plant’s health and eventually results in its death (source).
Another common disease that causes problems for your blanket flowers is Yellows, also known as Aster Yellows. With this disease, the green stems and leaves of the blanket flowers turn yellow, and the colorful flower head turns green over time (source).
Not only does this illness make their appearance look off, but it makes them unable to grow fully. If a blanket flower cannot grow out of this harmful wilted stage, it may remain like that permanently or die off from being too weak.
How To Fix
Unfortunately, the white smut symptoms and appearances may be overlooked because they are usually small and faded spots. However, by regularly checking your plants for white spots, you may be able to reduce the infection area if you catch it early on.
So watch your blanket flowers for any sudden changes in appearance, and remove diseased plants to prevent further infections. Clip infected parts of the plant to salvage the rest, and utilize a natural and safe pest repellent on your plants.
White smut is a fungal infection, so you can use a plant-safe fungicide like neem oil spray to prevent the development of further lesions. You cannot save plants affected by Aster yellows, so the safest thing to do is burn the infected plants and isolate the rest to ensure they are safe.
3. Root and Stem Rot
Like diseases, rot in the stem and roots also inflicts immense damage to the blanket flowers and causes them to droop quickly. So when a blanket flower starts to rot, not only is that individual flower in danger, but the other blanket flowers around it may also be facing trouble.
The main identifying factors that indicate that your blanket flowers are experiencing rot are the following.
- Browning on the stem, leaves, or flower.
- Soggy or shriveled appearance.
- Leaves falling off by themselves or with gentle poking.
- Stems that cannot support the weight of the top of the flower.
In addition to these symptoms, it is not uncommon for the flowers to die shortly after getting the early stages of rot (source). It is extremely difficult for blanket flowers, or any other type of flower, to recover from rot as it infects every part of the plant.
How To Fix
Occasionally, rotten portions of the plant can be cut and taken off. However, in most cases, the rot has to be cleared by allowing the plant and other plants surrounding it to be removed entirely. Once you have cleared the rot, repot or replant your Blanket Flower in fresh soil.
Overwatering is often the main cause of root rot, so reassess the watering schedule, and only water your plants after the first few inches of soil have dried out. Your plant may also benefit from being placed in an area with more sunlight, preventing root rot caused water stagnation in the soil.
4. Pest Infestations and Plant Destruction
In addition to harmful diseases and rot, insect pests wanting to devour can also infiltrate blanket flowers. Common insects that may lurk within your blanket flowers include the following.
- Four-lined plant bugs
These horrible insects attack the blanket flowers by eating away their leaves and stems. In doing so, they compromise the blanket flowers’ health and put them in a complex position to recover from.
If enough damage is done, leaves will start to wilt or fall off entirely because they are eaten.
How To Fix
To give the best care to your blanket flowers, it’s recommended that you keep an eye on them to notice any new changes or issues. From there, you can make the necessary alterations to give your blanket flowers another chance at being happy and healthy.
Apply neem oil to treat aphid and four-lined plant bug infestation. For plants infested with leafhoppers, you might have to try sprinkling diatomaceous earth on top of the bugs and removing the infested portions.
Always maintain good watering practices so the ground is never soggy, and wet conditions encourage pest infestations.
Noticing that your blanket flowers have wilted is never something wonderful to discover. This wilting is caused by many factors, including hot temperatures, diseases, or uninvited pests looming in your garden. Yet, with extra care, you can have thriving blanket flowers once again.