Petunia Problem

I bought a hanging basket with petunias in it in June. The plant looke
wonderful when I bought it, but now it has turned brown and brittle i certain areas. The main large stems are green, but most of the of shoots have turned brown. (stem and leaves) Only the ends flower now. have been watering them everyday and they recieve plenty of sun. I hav noticed that there are tons of tiny black ball like things all over th plant. I was wondering what they are. They come off easily. The groun is usually covered in them. My plant is on the balcony of m apartment, so I doubt it's an insect (unless they were on there when bought the plant)
If you need a picture to understand what I am talking about, just le me know. Thanks
-- marci
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One of the disadvantages of growing plants in containers, in the sun, is that many plants don't do well when their roots are hot. Naturally, the containers are as hot as the surrounding air. The plants sometimes end up looking ratty and worn out before an identical plant growing in the ground, where the soil's usually cooler. With pots on the ground, you can sometimes arrange for the pots themselves to be shaded, but that's not always possible with hanging pots. So, you may just have to get new plants. Better nurseries know this, and should have fresh plants available. It's also a good reason to buy seeds and plant second crops yourself at whatever time is appropriate for the plants you want.
The black things: What color are your petunias? Petunia flowers can shrivel up to a pretty small size, and dark blue or purple flowers may look black once this happens.
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Try cutting the the plants back to about the bottom of the pot. Then water them with miracle grow every time you water.
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Aphids can love petunias and they are absolutely common everywhere. I've had petunias covered in dead ones. The easy way is to touch the leaves. If they are tacky or sticky, it's aphids. THe aphids suck the sap out of the plant and they leave sap all over the plant's surface.
The black ones are woolly aphids. I get them each year somewhere. The petunias usually get green aphids. The black ones on Nasturtiums. This year my nastiurtiums showed up very late, so they woolly aphids covered teh calendulas.
You can power-spray the suckers off. Its a little rough on the plant but works. I also found a hokey-home rmedy from that weird Jerry Baker guy. This did work, but I find most of his stuff bumpkin-silly.
The spray was onion, garlic, chile/jalapenos, and cayenne pepper. add water and blend in a blender. You can let it steep a bit to strengthen. Strain it through a fine seive or coffee filter. Add 1/2 teaspoon of dishwash detergent to the liquid. Put in a spray bottle and coat the plant with the stuff. Be careful if you are in a heatwave zone--wetting down certain plants in blistering sun can hurt them. Lastly, if you love onions and garlic the smell will make you hungry as hell. the patio will reek for a little while that day. I sprayed it on two days in a row and the aphid population dropped dramatically.
Honestly hosing the suckers was quicker though.
DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, <1 mile off L.I.Sound 3rd year gardener http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/royalfrazier/album?.dir=/2055&.src=ph
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wrote:

I got an infestation of aphids early this spring. They went mostly for the spirea. I had good luck using a little dish detergent and vegetable oil mixed with water and sprayed on the plants. I repeated this once a week for about three weeks. I have had them attack my petunias. I find that petunias can be a little sticky even without aphids, making it messy to deadhead them.
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nancy Wrote:

Thanks Nancy.. I believe this black things are maybe seeds? I jus tried cutting back as much "dead stuff" as possible.. hope this helps. My petunias are Vegetative Petunia "Sanguna" Rose Vein".
Thankyou for your tips
-- marci
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I think I might try your tip Vox Humana, since I don't have a hose on m
balcony, it would kind of be hard to try another method. I'll give thi one a try. Do you think aphids are responsible for my plant lookin poorly? Im trying to remember, i think i remember seeing the blac things during the time my plant lost it's fullness. The plant is a bi sticky.
I'll let you know if it works. Thanks
-- marci
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You can usually see aphids on plants if you look closely. A magnifying glass would help. They tend to line themselves up on the young, tender parts of the plant, such as flower and leaf buds and new stems.
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Sorry I forgot to ask.. how much detergent, oil and water should I add
Don't want to kill them :
-- marci
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I put about 1/2 teaspoon of liquid dish detergent and a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a 16 oz. spray bottle. I wasn't very precise.
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Actually... I think I have solved the mystery. I did some more researc
and came up with this..
One of the most common pests of petunias is the budworm caterpillar These small green worms appear in late June and July. You won't ofte see the worm itself. Instead, you'll see the droppings, which often ar described as small black seeds. The worms feed on the flower buds making small holes in the buds and the leaves.
These caterpillars are difficult to control but Bacillus thuringensi (B.T.) and Bifenthrin are reasonably effective insecticides. If lef unchecked, the presence of the caterpillars will cause petunias to sto blooming.
Thanks to everyone to tried to help me.. I'm sad to say that I think may be buying a new bunch of petunias instead of trying to fight this. it's cheaper :
-- marci
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Marci, I've posted before that I really do hate petunias. Nothing against how pretty they look when well grown and tended, thats not the point. For ME, petunias are just tooo darned co-dependant and not worth the effort to coddle with pinching spent blooms practically daily.
So in one sense, I do agree with you. Replace the basket with something you like ( even if its another basket of petunias, LOL). Any reason to shop the greenhouse AGAIN!!!!!
Sue Western Maine
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I've had mixed success with petunias. So far this year they look good, but you never know what tomorrow will bring. I see beautiful mass plantings of petunias planted on retail and commercial properties and I know that they get no attention. I water and dead-head mine and more often than not, they end up looking like hell.
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Vox Humana wrote:

I think petunias' natural habitat must bear a striking resemblance to a gas station parking lot, since that seems to be where they thrive the best. Yours are probably not getting enough exhaust fumes and window-cleaner overspray.
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