I spent so much time trying to find my “Wave” petunias back in the spring. They had to be the trailing kind for baskets and I wanted the blue/purple varieties because they have more fragrance. I went to many, many nurseries until I found the right ones. You can read about it Here.
After all that work, my petunias started dying off. I read in an Erie Times News article on August 22 about the tomato blight that has hit the nightshade family of plants in the northeast. Our cool, wet weather is part of the problem this summer. Fungi likes this kind of weather. Petunias, I found out, are in the nightshade family, like tomatoes and potatoes. I always thought the petunia stems and leaves looked a lot like tomato plants with the fuzz and all.
Last year I had the same thing happen. I thought maybe it was spider mites or some very small bug that got them. This year I used all new potting soil and put a lot of effort into planting the baskets to hang from my front porch. Six in the front and more on the back deck. I bought new basket liners, too. However, when I went to plant them, the old ones still looked good so I kept and used them. Big mistake. Get new ones every year. It saves in the long run.
I planted 6 plants in each basket. They were going good for a few weeks and then, within a few days, I started noticing some substantial dying-off of the leaves. My heart sunk because I then remembered it happened last year, too. I had some Immunox stored on a shelf in my basement and sprayed them. I followed up in another week with another application. It was too late, but it kind of saved a couple of the plants but still, they looked bad. I took them down and will dispose of them, the soil and the basket liners. I’ll bleach the baskets and let them sit out in the sun.
Below are what all my petunia baskets look like except the ones on the sides of my porch.
When researching this problem, one person on a message-board thread gave advise to someone with a similar problem. Don’t keep using petunias if your area is subject to blight. You also won’t have to use all that insecticide and fungicide if you get plants that do well in your area. That is good advice if the area is going to be shaded (like my porch.) All the effort and expense of planting something that doesn’t thrive is silly. Next year, I’ll plant some other flower that does well in baskets, in our climate or settle for a different variety of petunia. The two side baskets that are really big and had new liners didn’t have as big a problem. They get more air and sun than the baskets in the front side of the porch. They also are of a different variety. Below is a photo of the side basket. The side baskets started to die off on the porch sides but the outside of the baskets is doing really good.