Powder on my Petunias - Knowledgebase Question

Edmonds, Wa
Avatar for babytanous
Question by babytanous
September 9, 2010
We just moved into a house in Seattle and it has 3 hanging baskets of petunias across the front as well as baskets along the fence. They were beautiful when we moved in but now they are almost dead and have a white powder on them. I water everyday, deadhead all of them at least once a week and I have given them some Miracle Gro in hopes of bringing them back a little. What could be wrong?

Answer from NGA
September 9, 2010
What you describe sounds like the fungal disease called powdery mildew. It's quite common at this time of year in the Pacific Northwest because nighttime temperatures are cold and daytime temperatures are warm - perfect for the fungi to multiply rapidly. Petunias are sun loving annuals. When the days begin to shorten and the sun's rays aren't quite as intense as they were in mid-summer, petunias become stressed which makes them susceptible to disease problems. There's not much you can do to save the petunias once they've become fully involved with the disease. I'd suggest pulling them out of the baskets and replacing them with cool season annuals such as pansies or snapdragons, or even chrysanthemums. You'll still have color in the baskets but won't have to deal with the disease - or with daily watering. Cool season annuals grow at a slower rate that summer annuals so watering every few days is probably all your new plants will need. Best wishes with your new landscape!

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