Why is My Calibrachoa Dying? [7 Common Problems]


Seeing your calibrachoa dying can be heartbreaking, it gets you pondering on questions such as; Why is my calibrachoa dying?, how can I save my dying calibrachoa?

Also known as million bells and trailing petunia, there are several reasons why they might start turning brown and subsequently die off.

When there are no curveballs, growing calibrachoa whether indoors or outdoors is easy. The plant and flowers are resilient and won’t wilt under heavy dew or falling rain when planted outdoors. They are also resistant to most plant diseases. For the most part, conditions have to be extreme for your calibrachoa to start declining.

What are these conditions? Can they be prevented from killing your calibrachoa? Are there easy fixes to the issues? These are the questions we’ll discuss in this article. So grab a cup of coffee because you’d need all the help you can get as we dive into the issues linked to the question: ‘Why is my calibrachoa dying?’

Why is My Calibrachoa Dying?

Like most plants, inadequate care is the overriding reason your calibrachoa might be dying. So it all comes down to the things you are not doing or doing improperly in terms of taking care of the calibrachoa.

Below are some of the typical reasons behind your dying calibrachoa and the fixes.

7 Main Reasons Your Calibrachoa are Dying & the Recommended Solutions

Improper watering

Root rot is the most common reason these plants die and this is mostly the result of too much water in the soil.

You are expected to water your calibrachoa just once a week under normal circumstances. The rule of thumb is to ensure the soil is never completely dry.

Keep in mind, though, that the plants can survive a few days of completely dry soil since they originated from arid regions. That said, you don’t want to let them go without irrigation if you can help it.

Solution – The best irrigation routine for calibrachoa is to water it once a week or when the top few inches of the soil is dry (or whichever one comes first).

The major problem you want to avoid is root rot. So what happens if root rot has already set in? Reviving the plant involves shearing off the mushy or brown stems (two symptoms of root rot). Then remove all wilting leaves while leaving healthy leaves to help produce energy for the plant.

But if the root rot is very severe, saving the plant is literally impossible. Roots that have a sludge-like consistency with black tips are typical of plants with severe root rot. Of course, you’d have to carefully pull up the plant from the soil to observe this.

In such a situation, the best option is to discard the plant and soil before planting a new calibrachoa. Remember to rinse out the pot or planter with disinfectant before adding a new potting mix.

Generally, when over-watering is the issue, remember to:

  • Quit watering the plant for about a week
  • Expose the plant to more light for the soil to dry faster
  • Cut off dead leaves with sterilized scissors or pruners
  • Change the potting mix in extreme cases

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Poor drainage

The issue of poor drainage or lack of it is closely linked to irrigation, soil type, and the absence of drainage holes.

If the potting soil is too compacted or not loose enough, water would not percolate as it should down the pot or planter. This can lead to uneven distribution of water in the soil with some parts getting too much water and others too little.

As already stated above, too much water in certain parts of the soil is the precursor of the dreaded root rot that can easily kill the plant. Conversely, not enough water in other parts for too long can lead to poor root development and a plant that looks sickly.

Solution – Basically, what you want is a high-quality potting mix that promotes good airflow and drainage. And you also want a pot with drainage holes for excess water to exit the pot to prevent root rot and other fungal diseases. If your pot has no holes, go ahead and drill some at the bottom of the pot.

Also, you could inspect the soil to see if there are traces of salts at the top. The plants are very sensitive to salts and react negatively to them. Salts show up as whitish crystals. If you notice some, flush them out by irrigating the soil with distilled water. Do this regularly to prevent the accumulation of harmful salts.

Fertilizer problems

When it comes to fertilizer, it can cut in several ways. It could be because you applying too much fertilizer or not using enough to adequately enrich the soil with the right nutrients.

The calibrachoa plant might also be a victim of:

  • Using the wrong type of fertilizer
  • Not adhering to fertilization instructions

What happens when a plant is not adequately fertilized is pretty straightforward. The plants would not thrive as expected and might even die in extremes cases.

On the other, too much soil nitrogen (from too much fertilizer) would possibly burn the calibrachoa leaves.

Solution –  Calibrachoa plants require less fertilizer compared to other house plants. Experts recommend the use of slow-release plant food or organic fertilizer applied at half strength once every couple of weeks.

Avoid using chemical-based fertilizers because they feature salts that can easily damage the roots and instigate other plant diseases.

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Weather conditions

Calibrachoa plants don’t thrive well in cold conditions. If the temperature of the region is consistently less than 60°F, the plants would become spindly and very unhealthy with few flowers.

Solution – Simply move the pots or planters to an area that receives at least 6 hours of sunshine daily. The added benefit of this is that with more sunshine, root rot can be prevented.

Fungal diseases

Leaf spot is the most common fungal disease that can lead to the decimation of your calibrachoa. The infection causes back spots on the leaves that are not immediately deadly. But the ugly spots could eventually be fatal to small plants if left to propagate.

The general progress of the disease sees the leaves turning brown, followed by dark gray, and finally a withering away of the affected leaves. Sometimes, it starts at the top before slowly working its way downwards to affect lower leaves.

Solution – Use a chlorothalonil-based, non-systemic fungicide to treat infected plants. Before treating the plants with a fungicide, you need to prune all affected foliage.

Phytophthora blight disease

Calibrachoa phytophthora blight disease is very active around spring to early fall because of the warm and wet conditions. Mostly common in areas of high humidity, the first hint of phytophthora infection are small patches of the plant turning either brown or yellow.

If left untreated, discoloration would continue, and eventually, the foliage would die.

Solution – Getting rid of the plant immediately is the best solution here. You could also use an appropriate fungicide to halt the spread in the early stages. Improving air circulation also helps in the control of this disease.

Insects & pests

Many plant insects and pests such as mites, whiteflies, aphids, and thrips can affect calibrachoa and prevent healthy growth. Diagnosing this problem is by closely examining the plant for these bugs.

Solution – The first course of action is removing infected foliage. Then immediately spray the plant with insecticidal soap solution or insecticide such as neem oil.

Since bugs can spread easily, it is a smart idea to check other plants and eliminate them if found.

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General Tips on How to Safe a Dying Calibrachoa

– Diagnose the problem to find the root cause

– Prune infected foliage, remove dead roots and other parts of the calibrachoa showing critical symptoms.

– Use fungicide or insecticidal soap to treat mild fungus and insect infestations respectively. If possible repeat this every two weeks until the problem is completely resolved.

– Stop watering and allow the soil to dry if the problem is due to too much water.

– Adequate soil drainage and the use of high-quality potting mix are also recommended fixes when dealing with excess soil moisture.

– Use only organic fertilizers to help revive the plant if you have to.

Wrapping up

There are several reasons why your calibrachoa is dying with most of them linked to improper gardening practices. The most serious is over-watering which can lead to root rot.

The indicators or symptoms of a dying calibrachoa include wilting, plant discoloration, and spindly growth. Fortunately, these issues can easily be resolved and better yet, prevented with the correct calibrachoa plant care routine.