Why Your Million Bells Plant is Dying? (And How to Fix It!)

Million bells plants deserve the name, they produce hundreds of flowers from early summer through fall. They look great ’cause they are hanging plants. It is also called trailing petunia.

Your million bells plant might be turning brown for various reasons. Plants usually turn brown when they can’t get nutrients for one reason or the other.

Why is my calibrachoa turning brown?

When you do not take good care of the plant, Calibrachoa leaves become wilted and then they become crispy, dried, and brown.

Your million bells can survive the dry out(watering issue) two times, but the third time the plant dies.

Let’s look at the possible causes.

  • Overwatering: We all know Million bells are aggressive plants. But they do not like too much water like any other plant. Make sure the top 1-2 inches of the soil is dry before watering again.
  • Root rot: Root rotting can cause leaf wilting and browning. Root rot in trailing petunia can be avoided by planting in raised beds. If you plant in pots, make sure excess water is drained.
  • Underwatering: Underwatering can cause leaf wilting and the tips of the leaves may become brown.
  • Excess fertilizer: If the plants get more nitrogen than required then they fail to absorb adequate water and they won’t be able to bloom at all. Do a soil test prior to planting for excess nitrogen.
  • Fungal infections: Fungal infections will affect the absorption of water.


Calibrachoa problems and solutions

Calibrachoa is easy to grow. A million bells plant may have to survive several problems to produce flowers. Let’s discuss the problems and their solutions.

How often should I water my Calibrachoa?

Calibrachoa just needs enough water to survive. Check the topsoil(1-2 inches) for moisture either with a tool or your fingers. If it’s completely dry then water the plants.

Either you planted a million bells in a raised bed or hanging pot, make sure it has a good water drainage facility. In the growing season, your plants need to be watered once weekly.

As with any other plant, overwatering can happen with calibrachoa too, so water your plants just when they need some.

Solutions for Root rot in Calibrachoa

Root rot can sometimes be caused by the plants that surround the million bells plant. So it’s better to plant calibrachoa separately in a hanging pot or raised bed.

You can amend the soil for the million bells plant by adding some builder’s sand to it. This drains out excess water. If you do decide to add sand to the soil, be prepared to water your calibrachoa daily in the summer.

Excess fertilizer

You may be overfeeding the million bells plants. Do not add nitrogen fertilizer to the soil late in the spring or summer.

After a soil test, if you find a good amount of nitrogen in the soil, it’s better to not use nitrogen fertilizer. For best results, fertilize with Magnesium and Nitrogen no later than early May.

How do you get rid of aphids on Calibrachoa?

  • You can cut the affected leaves and the plant will recover itself in a couple of weeks. Do not water it for two weeks and your plants will no longer be housing aphids.
  • Pay good attention to aphid infected plants especially the lowe side of the leaves where aphids usually reside.
  • Aphid larvae are usually found in weeds, they settle in garden plants when water splashes on them. So, pull out weeds as soon as you see ’em.
  • If the infestation is in the early stages, watering thoroughly with a powerful stream directly at the affected plant helps.
  • Many gardeners recommend using soap water to wash off aphids. Personally, I don’t recommend soap water. You can use Neem oil to get rid of aphids. Add 2 tablespoons of Neem oil to a gallon of water and spray the affected plant well.

Warning: Do not spray Neem oil when the temperature is above 90°F or below 40°F. 

What is eating my Calibrachoa flowers?

Aphids eat flowers, so do Tobacco budworms. Let’s see what are tobacco budworms and how to get rid of them.

Budworm larvae are yellow/red colored and some inherit the color of the flower bud. Larvae of tobacco budworms are one-tenth of an inch when they hatch and grow up to an inch and a half in length.

As these budworms mature, they come out of the bud and move towards the soil, munching on anything on the way. They form pupae in the soil and grow into adult moths.

The best way to get rid of these worms is by careful inspection. Inspect your plants at dusk and pick any budworms you see and throw ’em into a soap solution bucket. You can later add them to your compost mix.

million bells

Look out for eggs!

Cut off the damaged flowers and buds. Look for budworm eggs, they are white/greyish and usually found on buds, leaves, and flowers. You can gently rub them off.

Change the planting soil every year as the affected soil gives rise to new pupae and your new plants will get affected again.

Why are my million bells not blooming?

Ideally, your million bells plants should blossom from early summer through fall. If this isn’t happening, there’s something wrong. Let’s find out what!

  • Inadequate sunlight is the most common cause.
  • If the pH is above or below the ideal range i.e., 5.5 to 6.0.
  • Excess nitrogen may cause this issue, make sure you are not over-fertilizing.

How do you keep a Calibrachoa blooming?

Now that we have seen the reasons why a million bells plant fails to bloom, let’s see how to avoid this issue.

  • Sunlight: Make sure your calibrachoa gets adequate sunlight. If you grow them indoors, make sure they get 14 to 16 hours of light in cool temperatures.
  • Make sure the soil pH is ideal.
  • Feed your million bells plant with a fertilizer that has Magnesium and Nitrogen no later than early May.
  • You may want to pinch out crowded leaves and stems during the first 5 to 6 weeks of growth of the plant.

Should you deadhead Calibrachoa?

Remove dying and dead flowers carefully with mini snips.

This promotes flower blooming in these beautiful plants, as it sends a signal to the plant that its flowers are no longer there and need to be replaced.