The Q&A Archives: Bolero Hybrids: mysterious deaths

Question: For the last five years I have been growing what I assume is 'Salpiglossis Sinuata' with much success. I purchased the seed from Stokes as Bolero Hybrids. I germinate and grow under flourescent light. When I move them into 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 pots they move to the greenhouse. From there into the ground outside. As young plants, and after the first transplant, and now in the ground an occasional plant will die. Slowly a plant will begin to wilt and look stressed. From the ground level, the stem an inch below and above ground, begins to look soft and dark colored; and if left it will begin to rot. Of thirty potential plants, so far this has occured to one seedling, two at first transplant, and as of now, five of the blooming plants, and it shows signs of continuing. When transplanted into the ground all had excellent root development. Is this soil, insect or disease?

Answer: The seeds and seedlings of Salpiglossis (Painted Tongue) really need babying, so congratulations on your success! Bolero will grow about two feet in height. The plants grow best in full sunshine with moderate water but are especially susceptible to overwatering. Sounds as though a few of your plants have developed a stem rot, possibly from soggy soil conditions. It could be that there are one or two spots in the garden bed that aren't a fast draining as in other areas. Remove the affected plants to avoid spread of the pathogens to other, healthy plants. Water when the soil dries out and apply enough water to completely wet the root area. Then let the top of the soil dry out before watering again. Following these guidelines should help your plants grow and bloom in their own spectacular fashion.

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