Asked on Sep 01, 2013

What's wrong with my petunias? Aphids?

I'm hoping to get some advice from one of you garden experts. I have been noticing my petunias have started to look "sick" in places. When I was deadheading today, I noticed the leaves looked weird (see photos). I live in Eastern Washington state. Anybody?
  9 answers
  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Sep 01, 2013
    yep looks likes aphids and a possible smattering of white flies and a dash of sooty mold to soon follow. Spray some insecticidal soap on them to see if you can get it under control. Looks to be a pretty nasty case. If it has only started in one spot you might want to just pull the worst of the lot out and spray the remainder.
    • Ugh. Darn it! I thought I was taking such good care of them too. Was it something I did or didn't do, @360 Sod (Donna Dixson), or does this just happen randomly? I use Miracle Grow soil and clean the boxes each year before I replant. Thank you so much for your reply! ~Patti
  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Sep 02, 2013
    Sometimes it just happens. They come in on storms, on your neigbor's plants, on new plants. Timing is also a factor as well as temperatures. It sounds like you take good care and careful care of your plants, so I don't think it is anything you have or have not done.
  • Joanie1051 Joanie1051 on Sep 03, 2013
    Donna's right on track! If they had quit blooming I would have thrown in petunia bud worm, which are rampant here in Kansas City, hatching about mid July and proceeding to eat the flower buds from the inside, resulting in no blooms from the plant beginning around the 1st or 2nd week of August (depending on how one's plants were faring to begin with!). Make sure to get the spray on the undersides of the leaves and that should solve the problem. Good luck!
    • @Joanie1051 , thank you for your help. My plants bloomed beautifully all summer...this just happened recently, or at least that I noticed. @360 Sod (Donna Dixson) mentioned that it could happen after a storm, and we had a huge storm about a month ago. I'll be spraying them tomorrow and will be careful to include the undersides of the leaves.
  • April E April E on Sep 03, 2013
    yes aphids and donna is right the only thing I have to add is to use the soap every 3 -4 days so that you can interrupt the cycle if you have no luck w/ soap switch to horticulture oil or mix your own with mineral oil 4T per gallon and 1/2 t of cinnamon oil and only use late in the evening so as the cinnamon does not burn your flowers we have used the cinnamon mixture extensively in our annual flower crops for years and it works well
    • @April E , good to know. I'll try the soap first. It's interesting you mentioned cinnamon oil. The one thing I did different this year was sprinkle cinnamon on our deck railing to try to control an ant outbreak, and I think some of the cinnamon washed into the flower box. I'm wondering if that affected or infected my plants. Interesting...
  • Sharon Sharon on Sep 03, 2013
    It looks like the seed pods are just bursting open to me. the leaves and stems are kind of sticky so the seeds are sticking to them. Petunia seeds are very dark and tiny. Unless you are seeing movement I'll stick to my seed theory. All petunias look crappy after awhile. Cut them back and feed them and they will become beautiful again. Well, unless it snows first.:)
    • @Sharon , you're right about them being sticky. Do you really think it's just seeds? I'd go with that, except that that one end of my flowerbox seems to be the only place there's a problem. The rest of them look beautiful. It's weird.
      comment photo
  • Sharon Sharon on Sep 04, 2013
    Not all plants die at the same rate. Especially this time of the year. That plant is doing what it was born to do. Flower, set seed and die. You might be able to prolong flowering by cutting it back to about 6 inches. A plant can only do 1 process at a time. It either works on making blooms or it works on making seed. You can also save the seed. I cut off parts of the plant with the seed attached and just let it all dry on a plate. The plant part dries and the seeds just sort of fall off. sprinkle the seed on top of moist seed starting mix. It needs light to germinate so DON'T cover with soil. Just press it lightly into the soil. Mist top of soil with water and cover with something clear to keep in the moisture. I set mine on a towel on a regular regular heating pad on medium until they germinate. Then remove the cover and set them close to the light. When they have at least 4 leaves I put them in separate pots. I do this in February as they are very slow growers at the cooler temperatures in my basement.
  • Kelp4Less Kelp4Less on Sep 04, 2013
    @Tawsha and Patti @organizedCHAOS , try Diatomaceous Earth. It's great for getting rid of aphids. It's super inexpensive on our website, here is the link if you want to check it out: Best of luck!!!
    • @Kelp4Less , thanks for the tip. I've already tried the soap and will see how it does, but I've gone to your site and will definitely be buying some Diatomaceous Earth for next year!
  • April E April E on Sep 04, 2013
    no it wouldn't and the cinnamon is only effective for a short time as the sun and moisture breaks it down
  • Kelp4Less Kelp4Less on Sep 10, 2013
    @Tawsha and Patti @organizedCHAOS , you will love it! I made the hubs use it outside our house to get rid of ants, and it works wonders on that, too!!! Only took about 2 hours and they were pretty well gone and haven't been back, except the occasional one here and there. :)