The Q&A Archives: repotting annuals

Question: Why do my wave petunias die when repotted? We use an excellent quality potting mix and a bit larger hanging pot than they came in, but after a week, they just die. We do not overwater and have a good location for some sun and some shade. Did I plant them too deep? I lost 4 plants aleady and have spent so much money on plants. Even the ones I plant in the flower beds die off(perennials)

Answer: I've had the same experience so I know how disappointing it is to lose a plant after transplanting! Wave petunias have very tender intertwined fibrous root systems and no matter how carefully you transplant, some roots are bound to be damaged. This can send a plant into shock from which it may not recover. Here's what I do to ensure success: Water thoroughly before the move - wet rootmasses tend to cling together. Have your new pot already prepared with some moistened potting soil in the bottom and a bucket of moistened potting soil ready to fill in the sides around the plant. Unpot the petunia and handle it as little as possible, setting into the new pot and making sure the finished soil level will be the same as it had in the old container. Gently fill in around the sides of the plant and push the soil down with your fingers. Then water completely to drive out any air pockets and help settle the soil. The most important step is the next one. Put your newly transplanted petunias in a shady spot for a couple of days so it can adjust to its new container. Then gradually expose it to more and more sunshine over the next few days. Before watering stick your finger down into the soil. The top half inch of soil should dry out between waterings but the soil near the roots should be barely damp. Overwatering at this point will kill the plants. In about a week you can hang it back up in full sunshine. To address the problems with the plants in your flower beds, petunias need fast draining soils and should be watered only when the soil feels dry to the touch. Hope this information helps!

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