The Q&A Archives: Petunias look sick

Question: I just moved into a new home that was built on ground that was used for farming for years. The ground is like
clay --when it's watered it sticks together in clumps. Some plants grow just fine, but others, like my petunias
look awful. Can I start spraying Miracle Grow to add some nutrients to the soil? Please advise.

Answer: Fertilizer will help this year's annuals look better, but you should plan to improve your soil prior to planting next year. Clay soil stays wet and cold longer in the spring than one that contains lots of organic matter. Maybe this fall you can spread 4-5 inches of compost, leaf mold, aged-manure or peat moss over your garden plot and till or dig it in to a depth of 6-8 inches. This will help loosen the soil and add nutrients that will help your plants grow better next year. Organic matter will retain moisture and nutrients, but will not remain soggy when watered. Failing that, you might want to think about gardening in containers where you can control the soil and moisture to a better degree. It takes time and energy to create a good garden bed, but once you do, it will reward you with lots of produce and flowers.

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