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Annuals/Wilting Petunias


I just planted wave petunias in hanging baskets a week ago already they look their wilting and they are not dry

Check the roots.

Many a farmer knows about Diabrotica undecimpunctata, the yellow-and-black striped or spotted Cucumber Beetle, consumer of cantaloupes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, watermelon, pumpkins and related members of the Gourds and Melons 'Cucurbit' Family.

But a beetle's gotta eat, and these ones will settle for Petunias.  Eggs hatch on the soil, then tunnel under, toward the roots, which they devour with delight.  Naturally, a plant without roots wilts, even when watered.  The beetles also dine on petals, like here:

But maybe it's not a pest problem.  Too much water can lead to Root, Stem or Crown rot.  Leaves wilt; stems soften.  Gardeners panic and water more.

Verticillium Wilt is a real problem.  Do your Petunias look like these?

Verticillium lives in the soil.  If THIS is diagnosed, you should throw them out and get rid of the soil they grew in.  

Ingrid Berlanger and Mary Powelson, plant disease experts at Oregon State University, post their advice on one species of Verticillium on the website of the American Phytopathological Society.  They make clear how tough this disease can be:

"Verticillium wilt is problematic in temperate areas of the world, especially in irrigated regions. The pathogens can persist in soil for many years in the absence of a susceptible crop. Infection is through the roots, and management of the disease is difficult."

They note that this disease thrives in moist soils with a temperature range of 70-81F:

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Whatever the problem -- pest or rot -- you can improve the situation by using well draining, sandy soil -- not the kind that comes in bags from the supermarket or Home Depot.  Beetle larvae are injured by sharp sand particles and often succumb to those injuries.  

If pests are the problem, you can use the age-old method of crop rotation to keep them guessing.  Next year, don't plant Petunias there.  Plant something else instead -- Portulaca are drought-resistant and come in vivid colors.


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Long Island Gardener


Decisions, decisions... If you can't make up your mind which Annuals to grow, you're not alone. Problem with your new flowering Annuals flats? I`ve been there, done that. Petunias, Sweet Alyssum, Larkspur, Marine Blue Lobelia -- they all grow here at my house on Garden Street on Long Island, N.Y.. Cutting and Cottage Gardens, Sun and Shade Gardens, White Gardens and Night Gardens, I`ve done them all. Annuals are the perfect summer flower, bursting with color June through fall's first frost. I can`t speak on Cactus or tender Tropical Plants -- they don`t grow outside in my Zone 7. I`m no Farmer, so I cannot guide you on Fruits and Vegetables. But whether it`s an Annual you want to start from seed, mail-order or pick up at your local garden center, I can help you grow amazing blooms this Summer. Yes, together, we can turn your neighbors green with envy.


I have a lifetime of gardening behind me here on the North Shore of Long Island. While I have degrees in related fields, there's nothing like hands-on work to build real knowledge. I stay on top of current science -- there's a boom in research, and Kingdom Plantae is filled with surprises. By the way, I really do live on Garden Street.

Gannett newspapers, The New York Times, and hundreds of others - but not on Annuals.

B.A., botany; graduate credits in European Intellectual History and Political Science; minor coursework in related fields, docent training at our local botanical gardens (required for volunteers). I'm currently working on an advanced biochemistry degree.

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