Help – My Flowers are Dying!  Why they are & How to Save Them

Help – My Flowers are Dying! Why they are & How to Save Them

I love the “Container Garden” on my back porch.   To see how it all began go here.

I have spent years trying to figure out what makes them die and how to keep them alive.

I have a dear friend named Mamaw, at least that’s what I call her.  Meet Mamaw here.  She has the most gorgeous assortment of potted plants.  Her plants don’t die.  They only get bigger, fuller and more beautiful until her flowers have left her porch and are heading to the pond.

How does she do it?  Why do her plants thrive and mine struggle?

I think I have the answer.  This does not come from a book, website, or knowledgable source.

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If you went to a fancy book or special flower site they would say something like:

  • Be sure to grow the right flowers for your soil, climate, and sun exposure.
  • Be sure to regularly fertilize and feed your plants.
  • Be sure to spray for diseases and bugs.

Since I’m not one of them, I’m going to tell you what I know from personal experience.

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Mamaw has 2 awesome things going for her:


Her yard is the perfect combination of shade and sun.  Her entire homestead is sprinkled with dots of sunlight, yet shaded by giant, mature trees.  Anything can grow in her yard.  Anything.

Full Sun?  No problem.  Full shade?  No problem.  Part sun?  No problem.  Part shade?  No problemo.  She can grow anything.


She is always home, always tending to her plants, always mindful of them and observant.

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Here’s my problems:

  1.  My yard is a dessert.  DH won’t let me plant any trees (more on that here).  Anything I pot needs to be able to thrive in 110 degrees, scorching sun, and high humidity.   The plants adorning the tags that say “full sun” at the garden store still may not survive my yard.  It’s that hot.
  2.  I am not paying attention.  By the time I notice one of my containers is struggling and has some issues – it’s half dead.

Yup.  I’m good like that.

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Since I’m not Mamaw, don’t have the perfect yard and can’t babysit flowers……..

Here are my 5 Secrets to Beautiful Potted Plants:

1.  Water them every day.  

I know, what a pain right?  But, Mamaw told me this years ago.  And it works.  She waters her flowers every single night after she eats “supper.”  Every night.  If I know I am going to have a busy evening I water them earlier.  Daily water.

2.  Rotate (spin) the pots.

It is inevitable that you will get “bad spots” in your beautiful flower pot if it sits in the exact same position for 4 months.  One side will get more sun, one side will get more shade.  You will have a good side and a bad side, unless you spin the pot on a somewhat regular basis.

3.  Give them a hair cut.  

When my petunias begin to get scragly and leafless it’s amazing what a trim will do.  It seems wrong and sinful to cut off the beautiful, flower-filled ends of the petunia vines – but sometimes this is what you must do!  Your plants won’t die (at least they shouldn’t).  Just cut off a few inches (I usually take off about 6) and hang on.  Cutting off the end of the petunia vines will encourage the plant to send out more vines, leaves and flowers from the base of the plant (the top part that is going bald).  I am always amazed how quickly my plants fill out after a trim.

4.  Feed them.

It’s no lie that a little plant food goes a long way with flowers.  I don’t use it a lot, but after a pretty good trimming I will mix a little food into the water to give them a healthy start growing all those new vines.  I don’t use any plant food, fertilizers or chemicals in my garden.  I don’t mind using plant food on my flowers – because I don’t eat them.

5.  Start Fresh.

If it’s just too late to save your flowers; start over.  This time of year flowers are practically free everywhere.  All the nursery’s and big box home improvement stores are either clearance-ing all the sad, overheated, under-potted flowers or throwing them in a dumpster.  Don’t be ashamed to toss the dead ones & stick in new ones.

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