stems of petunia's turning brown next to the dirt, still putting out blooms

I have several hanging baskets of petunia's. They are in the coconut shell baskets. The stems are turning brown at the base of the plant, at the potting soil line. I notice also the same problem at the nursey with some of their baskets. They are still growing and putting out healthy looking, new ends. Also, still blooming. I water once a day, with a mild Mircle gro solution once a week. They get about 5 hours of afternoon sun, with different time of shade as we have tall oak trees.
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

Hi,

Thanks for writing. Is it just the stems you're noticing starting to turn brown or are the leaves at the base of the plant dying, too? If the plants are somewhat bushy, it may be that the stems and leaves at the base of the plants aren't getting enough light. Or it could be old age -- the first leaves are getting old and naturally dropping and the stems are getting thicker and more mature. It's actually pretty common for older varieties of petunia to get a ""bald spot"" at the center of the plant. (Newer varieties such as Potunias, Ramblin petunias, and Wave petunias don't tend to do this.)

---Justin, Senior Garden Editor, BHG.com


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