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Annuals/Bougainvilla and petunia



I live in the equatorial region.

I recently bought a bougainvilla that was flowering very nicely and i water once a day, and put outdoor. A few  days ago, the plant starts to wilt and leaves droopy. I thought it was a sign of underwatering. So I water more, about twice a day. Now, the bougainvilla has yellow leaves and are dropping. May I know what is wrong with my plant?

Also, I bought some dwarf petunia seeds, but the seeds don't grow at all.I water daily, and it's outdoor, the soil used is those mixture of soil. Can advise how I should grow them?


ANSWER: Peter,
It sounds like your bougainvilla is getting too much water, not too little. When a plant wilts but doesn't perk up once you water it, that's a sign that the roots are rotting. The plant is wilting because the roots can no longer take water up into the rest of the plant. Yellow leaves are also a sign of too much water.

Is the plant still in a pot? If so, turn it out of the pot and look at the roots - if they are white they are OK - if the roots are brown they have rotted. You might try cutting about a third of the roots off and putting it back in the pot with fresh soil to see if it will recover.

If the plant is in the ground stop watering it so much - only water if the soil feels dry an inch or two below the surface of the ground. In general it's best to water a plant deeply and then wait until the soil feels dry (but before the plant wilts) before watering again.

Petunia seeds are very slow to germinate so it still might be possible to have them grow. They need light in order to sprout, however, so if you covered the seed with soil they won't be able to grow. With seeds that need light the best thing to do is to fill a pot with moist potting soil and then sprinkle the seeds on the top of the soil and press them in lightly with your fingers so that the seeds make good contact with the soil but aren't covered.  Covering the pot with a piece of clear plastic (such as a piece of plastic bag that is clear) will help keep the soil moist while the seeds germinate but will let the light in. Remove the plastic as soon as you see the seedling start to grow.

I hope this helps!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks a lot!

I have just covered my dwarf petunia pot with plastic film. Hope they will grow fine.

As for bougainvilla, the leaves do perk up after I water them. But about half a day later, the leaves wilt again. Thats why i was watering twice a day. But I am unable to see if the roots are white or not though. I have just put some organic fertilizer, hope it helps.

Perhaps you're not watering them deeply enough when you do water - if you're hand watering this might be the case. Try letting the water burble next to the plant for 30 minutes, mulch around the plant, and then don't water again for a couple of days.

Sorry this took so long - my allexperts mail was going into my spam folder by mistake!


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C.L. Fornari


Annuals suggested for specific situations (sun, shade, windowboxes etc) New or unusual annuals are a particular interest of mine, and I grow many of these from seed. I am happy to help problem solve, answer questions about maintenance, and guide you to sources of unusual plants.


I am a garden writer/speaker/consultant and host of a weekly gardening radio program in the Northeast. I have been gardening all my life for my own pleasure, and started as a professional gardener and garden communicator 15 years ago. I work part-time at a garden center, selling and tending shrubs/trees/annuals/perennials...and doing some propagation and design work. I often think that all these professional activities serve to put a somewhat legitimate framework around a serious case of plant-lust.

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