Petunia – Dying

Q: I am at my wits end regarding “wave” petunias that I have bought. I bought one batch and put them by the mailbox. After about a week they started dying one by one. I bought more and put them in the same place. They have also completely died, along with some I bought for two hanging baskets. One day they look beautiful and the next they are completely shriveled up and brown. I bought the petunias at a couple of different nurseries. Is there something inherently wrong with the “wave” petunia variety?

A: More than other annuals perhaps, petunias hate having soggy roots. My observation is that petunias are hard to water in nurseries, usually because they are allowed to grow too large for their pots. They might be infected with root rot before you buy them.

When you buy a new set of petunias, examine the lower stems for signs of rot. Consider removing the plants from their container to see how the roots look. They should all be white. Just before you plant, slit the root ball half-way up from the bottom and spread the roots to either side as you put them in the soil. “Wave” petunias are excellent for covering large areas with eye-catching blooms. Put them in thoroughly tilled soil and they should perform just fine.