The Q&A Archives: annuals

Question: This happens EVERY year! My petunias (planted in a decorative outdoor urn) thrive until about now (end June/begin July). Very tiny black dots (looks like miniature eggs from an insect) appear on the leaves and flowers. At first, it doesn't affect the plant,they just sit there. Then, it slowly kills the plant. I never see insects imerge...just these tiny raised black dots. Tje plants are watered daily and get the appropriate sunlight it needs. I've tried to just spray the black things off, but no luck. (1) Is there a product I can buy that will protect them or get rid of whatever it is that returns year after year? (2) Do you know what these things are?
Thanks for any info you can provide!

Answer: That sounds so frustrating! Based on your description, I am not certain what is happening to your petunias. Somtimes petunias are infested by budworms that are difficult to see. These are very small caterpillars that bore into the buds, and their excrement can seem like little black dots on the nearby foliage. However, it does wash or brush off. Petunias are sometimes affected by diseases that appear in mid summer, these can cause yellowing and die back as the main symptom. So I wonder if you might have a combination of problems. Since I am unable to identify the problem(s) with certainty, I would suggest you consult with your local Rutgers county extension. They should be able to diagnose the problem more specifically, and then based on knowing that, make recommendations on what to do. If a chemical control is needed, they will have the most up to date information on what to use and how/when to use it for maximum results. I'm sorry I can't be more definite for you.

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