Solving Petunia Problems

Petunia Problems
SymptomProbable Cause
Blooming Stops; Blooms Are Soaked; DisintegrateCultural Problems
Leaves Chewed On Edge, Not In Middle of LeafCaterpillars
Foliage Curls; Puckers; Turns Yellow; Often the leaves and blooms become stunted. Sometimes ants are visible, crawling along plant stems and foliage, attracted by the presence of the sticky honeydew secreted by aphids. Aphids
Plants Wilt; Turn YellowVarious Viruses
Plant Blooms and Stem Tips Eaten, Whole Plant Can DisappearDeer
Plants Nibbled To GroundRabbits
Over night holes appear in the leaves and sometimes you can see a trail of silvery mucous on the plant and down on the groundControlling Slugs

Cultural Problems

If petunias stop producing blooms in the middle of the season and show no signs of pest or disease problems, chances are they just need to be pinched back. Clip or pinch leggy stems back by 1/3 to 1/2 and feed the plants. After a week or two they will begin to form new buds.
The extremely large blooms of large blossomed petunias such as grandiflora types become so heavy when they are wet that they fall on the soil and are ruined. These are best grown indoors in greenhouses and sunspaces or under lights. Choose from among the multiflora or floribunda varieties for sturdier blooms.

Various Viruses

Petunias are susceptible to several viruses that also plague their relatives in the tomato and tobacco family. Curly top, mosaic, ringspot, and spotted wilt are spread by various sucking insects and are not curable. Affected plants become sickly and wilted. Foliage may show spots and then it yellows and dies. Controlling pest insects such as aphids that may transmit disease in and around the yard is the best defense. Dig up affected petunia plants and discard them in the trash so that they so not become a source of infection for other plants. Do not use tobacco products around petunias. Disinfect any tools that come in contact with infected plants by dipping them in a solution of hot water and household bleach.

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