The Q&A Archives: Wilted Leaves on Pink Wave Petunias

Question: Some of the pink wave petunias in my flower boxes seem to have contracted a "wilt" of some kind. The petunias are fine one day, then overnight, they are turn yellow and wilt. I replaced a couple of them with new petunias and they did the same thing. However, it's only the petunias that are affected. The verbena and dusty miller are growing fine. And it only occurs in two of the six window boxes. I read about a Vercillium (sp) wilt that tomatoes are prone to, and the symptoms sound exactly like what has happened with my pink waves. Are they susceptible? What can I do to correct this problem? Can I replant the pink waves in these boxes next year by doing something different?

Answer: Excellent sleuthing! Want a job? Petunias are in the same family as tomatoes, and are indeed succeptible to Verticillium wilt. If the cause is indeed verticillium, you should change the soil and clean the planters thoroughly with a 10% bleach solution before replanting petunias. For now, I suggest replacing them with a different species of ornamental, and starting with new, clean planters and soil. Use bagged potting soil that is meant for planters; do not use soil from your garden, since that's the likely reservoir of fungal spores. For replacements, avoid these succeptible species: snapdragons, cosmos, china aster, bachelor's button, dianthus, and stock. Good luck!

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