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How To Make Sure Your Hanging Basket Of Petunias Stays Pretty

Ask the Expert: hanging baskets of petunia’s
My son bought me two of the largest, most beautiful hanging baskets of petunia’s for Mother’s Day.  I was with him and the lady said to “water them every evening until water come’s out of the drain hole, and feed them 1/3 cup of the mixture on the Micerial Grow Box,” and I would have flowers until frost.  I mixed the Miricial Grow Plant food as directed, one scop to every two gallons of water.

My plants are still as beautiful as the day he bought them, and I do what the lady told me to do.  My question is: Do they do this just to keep them beautiful until they sell them or if I am doing the right thing by following her advice?  I clean out the dead leaves and such around the soil each morning when I feed them, and I pick off the dead flowers at that time as well, I have had a few that have the stem has turned brown and like a “stick,” I just cut those out at the base of the “stick” and every thing seems fine.

They do not get the 3 full hours of sun the lady said they should have, only the morning sun as they are at the overhang of the porch.  Some days I put them on a plant stand in the yard so they will get full sun all day.  They are so full and beautiful that the multi-pink one almost touches the ground when on the plant stand.  The red, white and purple one is not as long but is perfectly shaped and very full of blooms.

My husband thinks I”m “nuts,” and that I water and feed them two much, and that they might be beautiful now but I am gong to kill them.  He say’s the plants will rot at the soil line and die because I water them too much every night. I stop watering ss soon s the water comes out of the drain hole.

Please give me advise as I don’t want to loose my plans.

Thank you,
Wanda Graham

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Plant Expert Reply:

The lady at the store was correct. You will probably need to water the hanging baskets every day.  Hanging baskets containing annuals such as petunias will need more water than houseplants.  They will also need more fertilizer.

However, there are a couple of tests you can apply to your hanging baskets that will help you determine if they need water. One is by determining the weight of the pot.  If your pot feels heavy, you should have sufficient water for the time being. This is one of the ways we test baskets at our family nursery & garden center.  As the water is used the baskets will start to feel lighter.  The weight method is a little hard to get used to, but once you have mastered it the watering becomes perfect.

You can also test the soil by sticking your finger in the soil and pulling out a small amount. If you can roll the soil into a ball and squeeze water from it, you have too much water. If you can’t roll it into a ball and it blows away, you need to water it. The perfect soil will roll into a ball and will not release water.  Keep in mind this isn’t a good test if you have just watered the plant.

We water our hanging baskets every day when it is sunny and warm. When it is cloudy, we have to check the baskets. Sometimes they don’t need water.  In the summer when it is over 90°, you will need to watch the water usage. Sometimes they will not use as much water and will go into a dormant mode. Don’t let them get dry but don’t over water them.

As for the fertilizer,  every week or every other week is sufficient. Annuals do require more fertilizer, since they grow at a rapid rate.  The key is to dilute your water soluble fertilizer so that it isn’t too strong.

You will need to occasionally pick the dead blooms off.  If the plant become to straggly, give it a hair cut.  This will stimulate the growth.

If you plant does’t get enough sunlight it won’t thrive and the stems will become weak. Make sure you rotate the direction of the pot. The plant will tend to grow towards the sun. So once a week turn the pot so that the dark side can get more sunlight.  Placing it out in the yard is fine. Keep in mind the more sunlight the more the basket may need water.

You are do a fine job. Keep up the good work. Your baskets should be pretty until frost.

Mobile florists hope this plant care question gives you the tips you need to care for your hanging baskets.

Comments

  1. I did what this article said PLUS cut my petunias waaaaay back every so often, usually just as they looked the best, to keep them from getting “leggy.” I have three or four or more baskets going so I can trim them way back in rotation about once a month, and not have all of them “short” at the same time. I kept mine going last year in zone 6 from early May until October as I wanted the yard to look nice for a home wedding end of September. I had to keep them from frost a time or two but they were gorgeous for the wedding. They likely would have kept going, but I got tired of the summer flowers before they were ready to go.

  2. How often to you add the third cup fertilizer? Each time you water? Once a month?

  3. Debbie,

    For hanging Petunia baskets, I use a water soluble fertilizer like Peters, Daniels or Miracle Gro once a week.

  4. I have or should I say had beautiful hanging petunia baskets. They were doing great. I have not changed anything . I dead head daily or at least every other day. But now the blooms are dying as they are forming. I have few blooms. They are on a drip system.and seem to be getting plenty of water. They hang on the edge of our cover. There was verbena mixed in but it has all fied. What am I not doing right?

  5. I have 3 hanging Petunia baskets when I bought them about 3 weeks ago they looked great I even bought
    Jacks Petunia feed at the nursery thats what the woman suggested. By the second week the leaves turned yellow and brown I do have flowers but I wouldn’t say alot of them. Some of the stems don’t
    have any leaves at all. I pick the leaves off as they die I’ve also fed the plants. As the woman said they
    look leggy should I cut those back. Help!! Not sure what to do I don’t have much of a green thumb thats why I bought Petunias I heard they are an easy plant. I would appreciate any feedback

  6. I bought 3 hanging baskets by the second week the leaves were either turning yellow or brown I picked
    them off along with the dead flowers now they are leggy looking hardly any leaves I’ve also tried feeding
    them as the woman suggested when I bought them. Should I be cutting those straggely looking things
    back? Help
    Thank you

  7. Ruth,
    Fertilize every week or every other week. Annuals do require more fertilizer, since they grow at a rapid rate. The key is to dilute your water soluble fertilizer so that it isn’t too strong.
    You will need to occasionally pick the dead blooms off. If the plant become to straggly, give it a hair cut. This will stimulate the growth.
    If you plant does’t get enough sunlight it won’t thrive and the stems will become weak. Make sure you rotate the direction of the pot. The plant will tend to grow towards the sun. So once a week turn the pot so that the dark side can get more sunlight. Placing it out in the yard is fine. Keep in mind the more sunlight the more the basket may need water. Hope this helps.

  8. I would cut your plants back to the edge of the pot even if that removes all the blooms. Yellow leaves sound like too much water to me. Give plenty of sunlight. Water once a day more or less unless it rains. Pick up the pot and if it feels light, water it. If it feels heavy, do not water it. Feed once a week with 1/2 tablespoon of Miracle Gro diluted in 2 gallons of water once a week (not all 2 gallons, of course). Pluck off dead blooms as they wither. In about three weeks, your plants should look healthier and last the rest of this season. Cut back somewhat if they start looking “leggy” again. Good luck!

  9. Rita,
    Remove wilted flowers as soon as they fade; otherwise, the plant will go to seed and stop blooming early. Cut petunias back by about half if they look tired and scraggly in midsummer. The rejuvenated plants will soon return with a burst of fresh blooms. Click the link for more helpful information on caring for petunia baskets. http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/petunia/hanging-petunia-plants.htm

  10. Ashley Franklin says:

    Ok my story sounds nothing like any of yalls at all but I ended up getting a hanging petunia flower that bright pink, full, and just plain beautiful for Mother’s Day last year from my daughter. This is my very first flower I’ve ever had given to me so I had no earthly idea on how to properly care for this flower other than knowing the basics like any other individual would. So I made sure that my Petunia’s got the sunlight like any flower would need. I mostly would either take it out early in the morning before the sun got to hot so it wouldn’t try to damage or wilt them badly. It I would take them out in the early afternoon to get the sunshine but anyway I made sure that I watered my flower every night of everyday until the pot would drop the water to let me know that it had enough water then I’d bring them in afterward so I knew they would be safe. Well not even a year ago I ended up having a big family emergency and it led me to be away from home for a month so I sadly hate to admit this but I never had the chance to water it or give it the sunlight that it needed. So now my poor flower is completely dried up and has no life in it none whatsoever. It does have no leafs of course because of my sorry self. So my question is this…. Is there anyway I can bring my flower back to life fast even I even have half a chance to even try? Is so what do I do and how do I go about it?

  11. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Ashley,
    It sounds like your petunia may be too far gone to save. Can you send me some pictures? My email address is jamie.woods@flowershopnetwork.com

  12. Loretta Leigh says:

    Hi do you turn all hanging baskets each week so all the plants get some sun? Thanks

  13. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Loretta,
    If your basket is hanging in an area where one side receives more light than the other, it is best to turn the basket so both sides get an even amount of light.

  14. I bought all of my flowers 2weeks ago. The lady told me to fertilize everyday for if I wanted BEAUTIFUL flowers that would bloom all summer. I’m not sure what’s going on, but my petunias are all good and geraniums too…. everything else looks horrible, brown leaves and leggy. I’m no sire if there’re even worth trying to save. I don’t understand. The lady told me to use miriclae grow. I’m using 2 tablespoons per 2gallons of water. It looks like my plants are getting burnt… I water the them at dirt level so I’m not watering on the petals at all. I’m not sure what the name of the flowers are but I was told they could all be fertiled everyday and it wouldn’t hurt them. Can somebody please help before I kill the rest of my plants. Thank you in advance.

  15. Hi I received a beautiful hanging basket of petunias, mine did not come with instructions, I did not know I was to be watering them every day, I did water like about 3 times, and today they just drooped. I watered them twice today, but now I am worried, I now know I am to water them everyday, My question is their anything I can do to save my petunia plant. I now found out that I also need to dead head and not just take the dried flower but I need to take the green part too. thanks for any information that you can give me. thanks

  16. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Kathy,
    The best thing for you to do now is to get your petunias on a watering schedule. Water them every day in the evening just until the water comes out of the holes in the bottom. To make sure you have not overwatered, test your soil by sticking your finger in the soil and pulling out a small amount. If you can roll the soil into a ball and squeeze water from it, you have too much water. If you can’t roll it into a ball and it blows away, you need to water it. The perfect soil will roll into a ball and will not release water. Remember that this test shouldn’t be done right after watering the plant. You should also fertilize your petunias every week to every other week with a diluted water-soluble fertilizer similar to Miracle Grow.

  17. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Kim,
    It sounds like your plants are being overfertilized. Once a week or even once every two weeks should be sufficient for fertilizing annuals. You can try to flush them with clean water to dilute the fertilizer that has likely built up in the soil. Just be careful not to leave them soggy as this can lead to other problems.

  18. Nathalie Bullock says:

    I’m usually pretty good with hanging basket petunias, but this year I am struggling. The leaves look dry and tired. I water every evening. When I water, the water goes straight through. Do I need to replant into different pots with peat moss in the bottom?

  19. Hello,
    Every year I create a petunia flower tower and every year
    My petunias get aphids.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to avoid or remove them?

  20. Wilma Thomas says:

    I water and fertilize my petunias and have cut them back but they don’t look good what am I doing wrong

  21. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Wilma,
    Are your petunias getting plenty of sunlight? Lack of light can cause petunias to grow poorly.

  22. Carrie Richerson says:

    I have two beautiful pink petunia hanging baskets. They both have dead undergrowth. I water them every day and sometimes twice a day if it’s hot. I fertilizer them every other day and dead head them daily. When I first got them they went a day or two without water and they wilted and got droopy. They look ok on the outside for the most part but underneath is dead. Should I trim them back? I hate too cause they are long and pretty from a distance. What am I doing wrong or not doing at all that I should be? Thanks for any information

  23. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Di,
    The best way to prevent aphids is to be proactive. Check your petunias at least twice a week for signs of aphids. Look under the leaves and on the stems. The leaves may also be stickier than usual or have a black greasy substance on them. The best way to get rid of the aphids is a blast of water from the hose. You can also prune the infested leaves and stems, but make sure to dispose of them in a sealed bag. You can also use and insecticidal soap from your local nursery, but it will only work while it is wet. You can also plant other plants near your petunias that will attract aphids’ natural predators like green lacewings and lady bugs.

  24. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Carrie,
    Are you checking the moisture of the soil before watering? You want to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy, because this can cause root rot. I would also back off on the fertilizer. Once a week is usually enough. Cut out the dead undergrowth if possible, and cut them all the way back if needed. They’ll grow back quicker than you think.

  25. Jamie Woods says:

    Hey Nathalie,
    If you are watering in the evening, your plants may be getting dried out too much during the day. If it is very hot, they may require water twice a day. You can try repotting into a soil that has peat moss mixed in. You just don’t want your plants to hold too much water because this can lead to root rot.

  26. Carrie Richerson says:

    Yes I am checking the soil and it’s moist but not too wet and too dry. They are new pieces that have started blooming at the top and the basket is full of blooms. It’s just the dead area all the way around the pot behind the healthy blooms. Can I send you a picture or attach one to this thread? That may help if you could see it. It’s hard to explain what’s going on with them. Thanks for your advice! I appreciate any info and help I can get.

  27. Jamie Woods says:

    Pictures would be great! You can send them to me at jamie.woods@flowershopnetwork.com.

  28. I planted marigolds in a flower bed off my driveway on the south . Now something has stripped the leaves right off the stem. They don’t look very good right now. What should I do to get rid of whatever is eating my plants?

  29. I have a huge beautiful multiple colored little petunia plant . I have had it for about 2 months. It has looked the same as the day I bought it until it came a little rain and all of a sudden all the little flowers disappeared and I just have green leaves. What could of happened.

  30. Jamie Woods says:

    Petunias don’t really like to be wet, so after a heavy rain, the flowers sometimes close up. They should open back up in a few days.

  31. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Susan,
    The first thing you will need to do is determine what is eating your plants. Slugs are the most common culprits, but they only come out at night. Get rid of them by going out at night with a flashlight a picking them off and dropping them in soapy water. You can also try sprinkling crushed eggs (that have been baked) around your marigolds, the eggshells will cut the slugs. There are other commercial deterrents. If you have pets you’ll want to be careful with anything chemical. Rabbits have also been known to eat marigolds.

  32. I planted 42 petunias in my planter box last April and they’re blooming so well but this June month end bugworms are eating my vibrant flowers. Sprayed with garden safe insect killer but still not effective. What do I need to do? I don’t want them to die. Please tell me what pesticide is good for petunias that can be found at Lowes.

  33. Jamie Woods says:

    Look for something that controls budworms and caterpillars. Just be careful when using pesticides. You don’t want to harm beneficial insects. You can also try picking the worms off by hand and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water. Make sure to wear gloves, and check the plant at dusk. This is when the worms will be more active.

  34. Julia Wilson says:

    Petunias need as much sunlight as possible. :)

  35. The petals of the petunias in my hanging basket are curling under. I checked and it is free of bugs. So I would like to know what is causing it and how to fix the problem. It is beautiful and I don’t want to lose it.

  36. Jamie Woods says:

    Teresa,
    How frequently are you watering? If it has been extremely hot, you may need to water your basket in the morning and the evening. Lack of water and too much sun can cause the petals to wilt.

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