The Q&A Archives: Asiatic Lilies and Petunias

Question: I have a two-fold question. First of all, I have a bed of petunias that are blooming but the foliage is yellow. They are in a well drained bed and I water them about twice a week. What is their problem?
Secondly, I have 2 beds of Asiatic lilies planted in the same kind of soil. One bed is doing wonderfullly with the stems being approx. 12 - 18 inches high before blooming and the second bed is not doing so well. I have had 4 die and the rest are only about 4-6 inches tall and have very small blooms if any at all. What should I do?

Answer: Yellowing leaves on petunias can be any of the following situations:
1. Too much water. Most annuals want a deep soaking less often...and although you can't control the rain, you can be sure to water deeply every four or five days instead of every day.
2. Or the opposite - too dry. If the plant dries up periodically, it will shed those leaves that it hasn't had the moisture to support - these turn yellow and fall off.
3. If it's just the lower, older leaves, and the newer ones look fine, this is just the natural way the plant has of growing. Be sure that the moisture is consistent - if the soil feels moist don't water, and if it starts to look dry on top, feel down an inch or so and if the soil is dry, give the plant a good deep soaking.
4. Too much shade - petunias want to be growing in at least 5 hours of dead-on sun that include the noon hour....if they aren't getting this much, they may yellow and drop leaves.

You might need to give them a liquid fertilizer. Time-release tends to release the nutrients faster in hot weather, but that can use up the supply quickly. Give them some liquid fertilizer and they should green up right away.

Traditional types need to be deadheaded by cutting the small stem below the spent flower in order to remove the developing seeds. (Supertunias don't need deadheading).

All petunias stay fuller and bushier if every week you cut two or three stems back by half starting the third week in June in most places - those stems you cut will branch out so by doing that every week you will keep them fuller and more flower filled all summer.

The way your lilies are acting, I'd suspect things are not equal underground. Wait until the fall, after the tops of the plants die down and dig the bulbs. Amend the soil with some organic matter and replant the bulbs. This should give them an extra boost in nutrition and also make the soil a little easier for the roots to penetrate. I think you'll see a difference in their growth rates next year.

Enjoy your garden!

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