The Q&A Archives: Dying petunias

Question: Planted bed of petunias. Half started failing by looking very dry even though watered daily. Bit by bit one side of the square bed is dying one by one. I tried replacing them and no luck. Within a day or so they die. Put down a grub killer and have sprayed the whole bed for insects. But whatever the problem, it is marching up and down one side and I am afraid it will spread. Roots seem okay.

Answer: Petunias can stop blooming if the weather is hot and humid but the plants don't usually shrivel up and die. I would suspect a soil-borne disease of some sort. (Although it never hurts to run some basic soil tests to check nutrient levels and pH.) Some disease spores can live in the soil for years, so it's wise to avoid planting the same type of plant in one location year after year. You might try adding copious amounts of organic matter to the soil to try to help it recover and establish a healthier microbe population that can help keep disease organisms in check. Wish I had more solutions for you!

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