Saturday, December 22, 2012

You've Either Got it or You Don't

Outside a shop in beautiful Sandpoint, Idaho.
One of the things about gardening that I find most interesting is that it seems like gardeners have a knack for growing certain things while struggling to grow other things.  I know a great deal of this has to do with where we live, what our soil is like, what kind of weather we get, etc.  But I also think there are just some things that people excel at or fail at when they really shouldn’t. 

I think I do a pretty good job at growing Japanese maples in an inhospitable environment for them.  On the other hand, petunias should do just fine for me here but for whatever reason I flat out suck at growing them.  Even gas stations seem to have no problems growing abundant bouquets of them.  And yet I keep trying.  I have tried growing them in the ground and in pots.  I’ve tried growing them in full sun, part sun, and very little sun.  I’ve tried planting them early in the year and late in the year.  I’ve tried hand watering and drip irrigation.  The end result is always a disappointingly leggy, sticky, non-bloomin’ mess.  

Case in point: I have two identical wooden boxes that flank my front door.  This summer I tried growing petunias in each box.  They may have gotten slightly different amounts of sun light because they were a couple feet apart but they were purchased at the same store at the same time and appeared to be grown by the same company.  They were put in identical potting soil and they were hooked up to the same drip irrigation timer.  And yet one of them died within weeks while the other one miraculously looks like this in mid-December no less!  In fact, they look better today than they did in June.  Go figure.

So what am I doing wrong?  What’s the trick to growing petunias that bloom and bloom? 

I visited my alma mater a few summers back and was enchanted by these
hanging baskets of petunias repeated along the "Hello Walk".


  1. My plant nemesis has always been MINT, of all things. I've never planted it in the ground, I'm scared of an all-mint garden; but I have never been able to get it to live in a container. Have a most Merry Christmas! Calvin

    1. Merry Christmas, Calvin! I've never planted mint in the ground either but I've had some pretty abundant crops of it when I put it in pots. Enough to keep me making mojitos all summer long anyway.

  2. I have good luck with petunias and grew white Supertunias this year. If they are sticky, it's because they're thirsty. Cut them back when you deadhead them to keep them bushy and to avoid legginess. They also do better when given a dose of liquid seaweed when you water them. A bit of light afternoon shade also helps.

    Check your container to see if there's a problem or environmental factor that could have contributed to the quick death of the one plant. Was it receiving reflected light/heat or air from an exhaust vent? You might need to do a bit of sleuthing.

  3. Pretty petunia avenue at the college. Hope you had a nice holiday.