Containers forum: Why are my potted nasturtiums unhappy?

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Name: ilona
Lovell, Maine (Western ME near (Zone 5a)
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MissiveMaven
Jul 17, 2017 8:14 AM CST
I have two pots of 4 nasturtium plants each on a deck in full sun. When I first got them (in early June) they were quite happy, but lately they are not thriving. Each pot contains an Empress of India, Jewel mix, and two other plants of unknown cultivar (purchased at a farmer's market). All of them were purchased as seedlings. Initially they got happier after I planted them in pots, but then there was a decline.

I'm in zone 5a, western Maine near the mountains. It has been an average to cool summer (highs varying from upper 60s to low 80s, lows in the mid-50s to mid-60s) though unusually wet. A couple of times for real downpours I hauled those giant pots into the porch because I feared the nasturtiums were getting too wet. So are they too wet? Too dry?? The leaves have been yellowing and some have been drying to brown and dying. So that makes me think the plant might have been too dry or the soil too well-drained? They also get a ton of sun, and the dark blue pots get quite hot, so I've been wondering if they're just cooking and frying in too much sun also.

I know nasturtium favor poor soil, so they are planted in poor and very well drained soil, lots of sand at the bottom. Is the soil possibly *too* poor? I'm stumped! Thanks for any help. They bring the hummingbirds so I especially love them!

(I do dead-head them, but haven't done so in the past two days so pardon the dead blossoms.)
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
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Weedwhacker
Jul 17, 2017 8:30 AM CST
Welcome to NGA, @MissiveMaven .

I think there is a combination of several things causing the problem -- first, my nasturtiums have always done best in somewhat less than full sun, and yours are getting a double whammy in that department, being in darker pots that are heating up the soil.

I'm not sure what exactly you used in terms of "poor soil," but I've always just used potting mix with fertilizer (I generally use Miracle-Gro, just because it's readily available to me) and they've flowered abundantly without having what I would consider an excess of foliage.

Do those pots have drainage holes? The plants do look kind of "drowned" to me, although if the soil is actually "well drained" that shouldn't be a problem even with a lot of rain. If there are no drainage holes, though, the water is going to accumulate no matter how well the soil would normally drain.

Hope that helps! Smiling
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Name: ilona
Lovell, Maine (Western ME near (Zone 5a)
Organic Gardener Cat Lover Butterflies Hummingbirder Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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MissiveMaven
Jul 17, 2017 9:25 AM CST
Thank you so much, Weedwhacker - I gave a full answer in the Ask a Question forum and apologize for the double post. Really appreciate all the info. I am definitely going to fertilize (with something organic) and move into part shade.

There are holes in the pots but they could definitely still be drowned. Eek.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
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Weedwhacker
Jul 17, 2017 11:57 AM CST
No worries about the 2 posts -- after I read your reply to the one in "Ask a Question" I understood; when you're accustomed to not ever getting a reply you have to get it out there in as many places as possible so someone might see it!

I think you'll enjoy this site, there are definitely a lot of very active and knowledgeable members -- I'm looking forward to "seeing" you around! Smiling
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities[/I] / Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
Name: ilona
Lovell, Maine (Western ME near (Zone 5a)
Organic Gardener Cat Lover Butterflies Hummingbirder Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
MissiveMaven
Jul 17, 2017 11:59 AM CST
Thanks again! I am enjoying this site so much, even moreso after the disappointments of another less helpful one. Smiling
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
Image
Weedwhacker
Jul 17, 2017 12:11 PM CST
Believe me, LOTS of us are in that same "disappointments" boat! Rolling my eyes.
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities[/I] / Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
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Name: UrbanWild
Kentucky (Zone 6b)
Kentucky - borderline of 6a & 6b
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Native Plants and Wildflowers Miniature Gardening Organic Gardener Frogs and Toads Dog Lover
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UrbanWild
Jun 10, 2018 5:36 PM CST
I had 6 hanging pots in which I tried Empress of India from seed. While they grew, they did not grow our flower well and were not worth the water it took to keep them on life support. Sigh...
Always looking for interesting plants for pollinators and food! Bonus points for highly, and pleasantly scented plants.

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