Understanding Plant Fasciation and How to Deal With It

When you spend a lot of time in your garden you start noticing interesting things about nature. For instance, you learn how to identify useful weeds, or you might discover strange conditions such as fasciation.

This unusual condition affects the appearance of flowers, which can distort the stems and makes the petals appear larger and overcrowded. Most famously, it makes flowers look positively strange. So what’s happening? And what should you do about it?

You’ve come to the right place. This article is all about this fascinating condition that appears on flowers and how to treat it in your garden.

What Is Fasciation in Flowers?

If you’ve spotted some changes in your flowers and you’re not sure what’s going on, you might be dealing with fasciation.

In literal terms, fasciation refers to the act of bundling. When a plant has this condition, the growth can emerge deformed. This can cause unusual growth in flowers, stems, or leaves. Fasciation can occur on the root and sometimes the fruit.

fasciation strawberry

Gardeners will describe flowers with these deformities as fasciated. If you’re new to the world of plants then you probably are only learning about this term, but it’s a common problem that has been around as long as plants have.

There are a few things to look out for when it comes to fasciation.

Depending on the flower, fasciation will affect several parts of the plant. Sometimes, this condition only appears on the tip of the plant so it doesn’t have severe consequences. However, if fasciation develops on the root, then it might ruin the whole plant.

Even though fasciation isn’t the most common condition to find in your garden, it has been studied in over 100 species across the world. The garden flowers most commonly affected by fasciation are delphiniums, forsythia, foxgloves, lilies, primulas, euphorbias, and Veronicastrum. But many species, from trees to herbs, and ferns to cacti, can be impacted.

You can tell if your flower has this condition once they’ve reached full maturity and you can compare them to other flowers. You might see things like two flower heads fused together or elongated centers. Some flowers might be huge or fruit might be weirdly misshapen.

Sometimes you’ll see clusters of stems or growths at the tip of a stem, or a stem might be flat instead of round. Think of it as a “mistake” in the growth of the plant.

Fasciation isn’t always bad. Many prized plants out there, such as Japanese fantail willow and cockscomb celosia cultivars are the results of fasciation.

Plant Fasciation

Why It Happens

There are several reasons why this can happen to your plants.

As the genetics of each flower is unique, that means that there are often irregularities that can cause deformities like fasciation. Similar to humans, there can be random occurrences that mutate certain cells and the overall gene pool of a plant.

It can also be caused by hormonal imbalances.

Fasciation can also develop from damage from pests like insects or herbivores. Many gardeners use an insecticide to get rid of insects, and this can lead to unusual plant growth. You can even cause fasciation by injuring a plant while you prune or dig around it.

If the flowers have been growing in winter and are exposed to harsh weather conditions, this can also cause deformity.

Fasciation can be caused by a phytoplasma, or fungal, viral, or bacterial infections. Fasciation itself isn’t a disease, but the strange growth can be triggered because of a disease.

Finally, it might occur for no reason that we understand. It can just be one of those things.

Can You Treat Fasciation?

fasciation mango

Although you can limit the possibility of infections with proper maintenance, you can’t completely avoid flower fasciation. We don’t always know what causes it. There’s also no cure once a plant has it.

Now, this might be disheartening if you have a garden full of colorful, beautiful flowers. However, if your flowers are perennials then they might grow back completely fine next year. So, you shouldn’t destroy them if they end up with fasciation.

That being said, if you want to improve the look of your flowers and don’t want to completely remove them from your garden, then you can prune any impacted areas. This might make the plants look better, but it won’t guarantee that new growth won’t be faciated.

Fasciation doesn’t spread in the garden, so you don’t have to stress about one plant catching it from a nearby plant. However, if a particular pathogen has caused the fasciation, it might spread to other plants and they might develop this disorder.

Help Prevent It

The first thing you can do to limit fasciation is to use an organic spray when you treat pests and diseases. In most garden shops you can find natural options for removing pests and diseases. Neem oil, horticultural oil, and beneficial fungi and bacteria are all good options.

You should also give your plants the nutrients they need to stay healthy and fight off any potential pests or diseases.

Protect your plants from damage, whether it’s caused by winter freezing, your edger, or nibbling rodents.

Learn To Appreciate Fasciation

fasciation flower

When you plant flowers the first thing that comes to mind is an image of a space full of blooming petals. But, sometimes, nature has a way of spoiling our plans. Fasciation is one of those unexpected surprises that can throw you off when growing your plants.

Depending on your personal preference, fasciation doesn’t need to be the end of the world. After all, it’s a natural condition. Instead of working against it, you should learn to embrace these unique differences that can appear on your flowers.

It comes down to what you want your garden to look like. Do you want a perfect display of organized flowers lined up with one another? Or can you live with something a little more natural and embrace small imperfections like fasciation.

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