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How to Prevent Flowering Plants From Fading in Color and Easy Ways to Boost Bloom Vibrancy

Easy tricks keep the blooms in your garden looking vibrant and lush all season long!

There is nothing as brilliant as the sight of colorful garden flowers gracing our backyards during the sunny season! But if you have noticed your flowers are not as vibrant as they were at the start of the season, they might be fading in color due to too much sunlight, water fluctuations or a pH imbalance in the soil. Not to worry! We asked gardening pros for their best strategies for how to prevent flower color fading and how to make them more vibrant if they have already started to fade. Read on for the easy how-to’s so you will have the most bright, beautiful blooms on the block.

Why do flowering plants fade in color?

Flower Color Fading: Hot pink petunia plants in garden that have started to fade to a lighter pink color
Hossain Mahmud Hasib/Getty

“The main cause of flower color fading in flowers is exposure to harsh summer sunlight,” says Sally Allsop, founder of the online gardening website All That Grows. “As the summer progresses, the intensity of the sun’s rays increases, causing the delicate pigments within the petals to break down.” This process, known as photodegradation, is particularly evident in flowers like hydrangeas, which are sensitive to UV radiation, she notes.

Flowers also tend to fade naturally after pollination, notes Evan Torchio, founder of Tree Menders. Their goal is to attract pollinators, reproduce and then set seed, naturally causing them to fade, he says.

Different stress factors can also affect the color of your flowers. Fluctuations in watering can stress your plants and speed up their color loss, says Allsop. What’s more, newly transplanted flowers or those in poor soil conditions may show muted colors, notes Torchio. Soil acidity can also play a role, with hydrangeas being the most susceptible to this since soil acidity level directly impacts their bloom color, he says. “Hydrangea can turn vibrant blue in acidic soil, while more alkaline soil can turn them pink.”

How to prevent flower color fading

Keeping your flowering plants looking colorful and bright is simple with a few key steps:

Flower Color Fading: White hydrangea paniculata shrub in garden that is changing in color from white to pink
Angeline Teixeira/Getty

1. Check the soil

The foundation for stunning flowers starts with the soil, so start by ensuring your flower beds are rich in organic matter and nutrients to nourish plant roots and help them produce the healthiest, most colorful blooms, suggests Allsop. Regularly testing your soil with a soil pH test kit (available at garden centers or online) can help you identify any deficiencies which then you can look to rectify. For example, if your hydrangea’s soil is too low in acidity for fostering beautiful blue blooms, you can amend the soil by applying granular aluminum sulfate, sulfur or iron sulfate (available at garden centers) to help acidify it, says Gail Pabst, Marketing Communications Coordinator for National Garden Bureau.

2. Optimize sun exposure

Next, check the sun condition of your flowering plants and if possible, position them in areas that receive partial shade, especially during the hottest hours of the day, says Allsop. “This will help protect the pigments from direct sunlight.”

3. Ensure plants are properly hydrated

Additionally, consistent, deep watering is key to maintaining good moisture levels that ensure plants continue to thrive and stay colorful, says Allsop. “Water plants in the early morning or evening to minimize evaporation and be mindful not to overwater, as this can lead to disease.” Tip: Consider applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants, which aids in moisture retention and moderate soil temperatures to keep your flowers bright, notes Allsop.

What to do if flowering plants have already started to fade in color

Flower Color Fading: White picket fence covered by overgrown rose shrubs with with pink blossoms that have started to fade to white
Catherine McQueen/Getty

While flowers fading in color is often normal and just means they could be reaching the end of their lifespan, Torchio says understanding each flower’s specific needs is key to treating your fading plants. First, check all three key steps above (soil, sun exposure and hydration), then determine if plants need to be in amended soil, moved to a shady spot or given more water. Finding the perfect balance will bring back the blooms’ health, encouraging more vibrant colors.

Also smart: Torchio suggests “deadheading” or using fingers to remove any spent flowers from plants, which encourages the plant to reflower, keeping more vibrant blooms coming. To see deadheading in action, check out this video from @RogersGardensCDM on YouTube.

Or, you can try applying flower fertilizer with higher phosphorus content (available at garden centers or online), which can also boost flower production, says Torchio.


For more helpful gardening tips, keep reading!

Pro Tips: How To Care For Tulips + How to Turn Potted Tulips Into A Stunning Garden Display

Container Garden Ideas: These Displays Are Inexpensive, Easy to Make & Simply Stunning

6 Low Maintenance Plants That Will Thrive in Your Yard, According to Plant Pros

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