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Mr. Smarty Plants - Care of non-native, hybrid petunias

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Tuesday - August 31, 2004

From: Philadelphia, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care of non-native, hybrid petunias
Answered by: Stephen Brueggerhoff

QUESTION:

I have a beautiful Petunia Tiny Tunia Violet plant which has been flowering nicely (in sun and shade environment). Suddenly, a few days ago, it began to look like it's dying--stalks all dried out. Is this normal? I have kept it moist. Should I cut it back and will it bloom next year? It is a perennial, isn't it?

ANSWER:

Hybrid garden petunias should be watered regularly, placed in well-draining, compost enriched soil. The plant may be responding to too much water; stem die-back like you have described is the result of a vascular problem, resulting from roots drying out from too little water, or root rot from too much water. The roots may also be affected by a soil fungal pathogen. If the roots die, then there is no nutrient and water delivery to the stems/vegetative tissue, causing the vegetative tissue to die. If the soil is remaining moist, allow the soil to dry out a bit and water sparingly. You may have to propagate vegetatively if the plant is in continual decline. You can reference this website for more information about petunia horticulture.
 

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