How to propagate petunias?

Propagate Petunia Cuttings: How To Root Petunia Plants

Most flower gardeners are familiar with growing petunias from seed. They’re sturdy, reliable flowers for borders, planters and hanging gardens. But what about taking petunia cuttings? Learn how to start petunias from cuttings to create dozens of new plants that are clones of the original and that will guarantee blooms earlier than any of your neighbors.

Why Propagate Petunia Cuttings?

If you want to propagate petunia to grow the same type next year, there are a couple of problems with simply saving the seeds and planting them next year.

First, if you live in the northern half of the country, it may be the middle of summer before you see any blooms on your petunia plants.

Second, if the petunias you grow and care for are hybrid varieties, the seeds you collect won’t breed true the next year.

The way to grow more plants for next year’s garden is by rooting petunia cuttings.

How to Root Petunia Plants

How to root petunia plants? The best way is to begin with the absolute best example of the plant you have in your garden. You’ll be making exact clones of these plants, so choose the ones with compact growth and bright, big flowers in colors you love. Take cuttings from the plant in the fall before frost arrives.

Rooting petunia flowers is very simple as long as you prepare correctly. Make a mix of equal parts peat moss, sand, and plant food. Fill a flat with the mixture and mist it to moisten it all the way through.

Clip leaves from the tops of the petunia plants, making sure you collect soft, flexible examples instead of older, woody types. Wrap the leaves in a damp paper towel until you can bring them inside to plant.

Dip the end of each leaf into rooting hormone powder. Make a hole in the soil mix with a pencil and place the powdered stem in the hole. Push the soil around the stem to hold it in place. Plant all the leaves in the same manner, keeping about 2 inches (5 cm.) between each one.

Place the tray in a cool, dark place for about three weeks. After this time, gently pull on one leaf to see if roots have begun to grow on the stem underground.

Once all the leaves have stems, transplant them into individual small pots. Transfer the pots to shelves with grow lights and grow them throughout the winter. You’ll have bloom-ready petunias as soon as the frost leaves, first thing next spring.

How to Grow Petunias From Cuttings

red, white, and pink petunia image by Lucid_Exposure from

Petunias are often a gardener’s staple. They bloom in the spring, usually without fail, and can survive and thrive with little care. There is no need to fork out money for seeds to propagate petunias. Take cuttings from existing petunia plants and encourage them to grow roots. Eventually they will become their own individual plants. Petunias are easy to root, especially in the spring when the plants are rapidly growing.

Choose a healthy looking stem from a healthy petunia to root. Cut off 3 to 5 inches of the stem just below a node (where leaves grow). Make a clean cut uing a pair of sharp clippers or scissors.

Pinch off the petunia leaves on the bottom 1-½ inches of the stem. Do not plant the leaves.

Dip the cut on the bottom of the stem in rooting hormone to help encourage the roots to form. Shake the excess rooting hormone off of the stem.

Plant the bottom 1-½ inches of the stem in a container with drainage holes. Fill the container with equal amounts of sand, perlite or vermiculite with peat moss or sphagnum moss. Water the rooting medium (soil) until it is slightly moist.

Cover the cutting with plastic or glass if possible to keep the cutting from losing too much moisture.

Set the cutting out of direct sunlight in an area that is around 60 to 65 degrees F. Keep the soil moist and check on it every two to three days.

Tug gently on the cutting to check if it has rooted. Resistance from the cutting indicates that roots have formed. Transplant the cutting to a larger container in six to eight weeks.

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Tons of Free Plants from Cuttings

It is that time of year!
Time to plan for a glorious garden filled with color.
A fast, easy and budget friendly way to get loads of plants is to take cuttings and root them.
You get larger plants faster than you would from seed plus you get a true clone of the parent plant whereas with seeds you never know what you will get.
A few good choices for fast and easy propagation are: Zonal Geraniums


Ivy Geraniums

These are not all the plants you can do this with, just a small sampling.
These were grown from seed and I only propagate for myself and not for sale.

(this post contains affiliate links, please see disclosure page for more info)

First you start with a nice healthy plant. I overwintered some of mine in my studio and upper bedroom window.
Take a cutting from a fresh green branch just below a leaf node. Cut with something clean and very sharp, like a razor or xacto knife.
See…..fresh green branch.

Old crusty branch…this is not what you want..

Make sure you have some potting mix ready to load up your freshly washed and sterilized little pots with.
My mix is half potting soil (Ace brand) and perlite.

These are 3 inch pots, you can use smaller or even the Jiffy pellets work well.
These pots have all been washed in hot soapy water with a touch of bleach, then rinsed well and air dried.

The cutting should be about 4 or 5 inches long and leave two healthy leaves on them.
When you put the stem into the dirt make sure two leaf nodes are covered by the soil mix.
With geraniums I do not use a cloning or rooting medium but other plants do root better for me when I do, here is the rooting medium.

Water well and press the soil firmly around the cutting.

I love my propagation trays with lids. They work wonderfully for me and are less of a pain that the plastic bag method.
Find some here on Amazon or Park Seed has a lovely one that is very durable and worth the cost if you are going to propagate often.

Put a clear lid on your tray to maintain moisture and keep at a moderate temperature and in bright light.
I have mine in the greenhouse but you can put them under lights in the house as well.

You can use clear plastic sheeting you get in a roll at the home store, just tent it up so it up with something so the plastic does not touch the cuttings directly. It does not need to fit snug, you do want some air circulation.

Here is my petunia cuttings done the same way under their clear dome roof under grow lights in my dining room.

And Voila’….a few weeks later you have roots!

I love when that happens. Sweet success. You can now pot them up into a larger pot to fill out more or put them in whatever container you want to see bright happy flowers. I would wait to plant them in the garden until they were a bit larger but if you wish you can put them right in your borders and beds now. Just protect from slugs and snails, I use a bait.

Never be afraid to try rooting things out of season. Like this clematis…see the green sprout in the corner?

That is a cutting that is starting to grow. I did a post on pruning a clematis last Fall…Prune Clematis for Top to Bottom Bloom, and even though it was the wrong time of year to root cuttings I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try since I had a ton on hand from the pruning.

I cut the clematis trimmings into small lengths, dipped them in rooting hormone, poked them in compost in a small pot, and let them just sit in the greenhouse over winter. Though I only show one in the photo, nearly all of the cuttings I planted are showing growth. I didn’t even have a cover on them to retain moisture.

The moral of the story, even though it may not be the “best” time of year to do something for the garden it won’t hurt to give it a try, you may be surprise.

More you will enjoy.
Roses from Cuttings
Rooting Lilacs from cutting
Air Layering to Root Roses
Propagate Scented Geraniums

Happy Planting!

All About Petunias

Can I Grow Petunias?

A definite Yes! Petunias are moderately easy to grow from seed, and extremely easy to grow from commercially grown seedlings.

Use petunias everywhere there is sun. The low growing types are ideal for the front of a flower border, in planters near doorways and pools, or on patios. Tuck petunias in between evergreen shrubs to brighten the area. Use the ‘Wave’ petunias as groundcovers. Because they tend to attract lovely moths after dark, many homeowners plant petunias near landscape lighting located near a window or patio where they can enjoy the flowers and their visitors at night.

Should I Plant Petunia Seeds Or Plants?

There are many, many kinds of petunias available as transplants in the spring either mail order or at local garden centers. You can also start petunias yourself if a certain type or color is not available as a transplant.

Be advised that growing seedlings of any plant is something of an art and it takes some extra knowledge and equipment to produce sturdy, healthy plants. Petunia seeds are notoriously slow to germinate, so start them ahead indoors in order to have seedlings ready when warm planting weather arrives. Petunias are also very tiny, so mix the seed with some dry sand so they sprinkle evenly on the growing medium.

Six to ten weeks before the date of the last expected frost in your area fill 2-inch deep flat boxes or peat pots with moist seed starter mix or soilless potting mix. Then sow the petunia seeds, pressing down lightly on them to be sure they are in contact with the growing medium.

How To Cultivate Pentunia Flowers

While petunias will bloom in bright, indirect light, they do their best in full sun. Petunias like fertile soil which drains well and is neutral to slightly acid (pH 6.0 to 7.0). Light, sandy soil is ideal.

Break up the soil by digging down 6 or 8 inches, mix in some organic matter, and then smooth and level it. Dig a hole for each petunia seedling about the size of its container. Carefully pop each one from its container, set it in its hole, and then fill in the dirt around the roots, pressing gently. Do not set the seedling any deeper into the soil than it was in its container. Water generously.

Group seedlings in threes or more or, where space is narrow, side by side from 8 to 12 inches apart in rows. After transplants grow to 6 inches tall, pinch back their central stems to force them to develop side stems and become bushy. The new, tiny milifloras can be planted as close as 6 inches apart as they are slow growers and finer textured plants. Sprinkle a teaspoon of all-purpose, slow-acting granular fertilizer on the soil around each newly planted seedling for the rain to soak in. This will provide consistent, basic nutrition for the petunias over the season.

Petunia Growing Tips

Spread a 2- or 3-inch layer of some organic material to mulch the soil around petunia plants. Use chopped leaves, dried grass clippings, wood chips or shredded bark products. Organic mulch suppresses weeds, keeps the soil cool and moist by blocking evaporation from its surface and improves its texture as it gradually decomposes.

Petunia Insects & Diseases

If petunia foliage puckers and turns yellowish, check for aphids. About the size of a pinhead, these insects have soft, pear-shaped bodies. They cluster and suck juices from tender new petunia stems and leaf undersides. Pinch off infested plant tips. Spray major infestations with commercial insecticidal soap according to label instructions.

Tomato hornworms, yellow woolybear and other caterpillars sometimes feed on petunia foliage, skeletonizing it. Simply pick off these very visible pests and drop them into a plastic bag for the trash. . Then pinch off the damaged plant parts, feed and water, and the petunias will rebound. Spray or dust infested large bedded areas with a product containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) while the caterpillars are feeding. Follow label directions.

Petunias are susceptible to several viruses such as curly top, mosaic, ringspot, and spotted wilt which are not curable. Controlling pest insects such as aphids that may transmit disease in and around the yard is the best defense. Dig up sickly, wilted petunia plants and discard them in the trash so that they do not infect other plants. Do not use tobacco products around petunias. Disinfect any tools that come in contact with infected plants.

Hungry deer will eat petunias. Protect plants in a large garden with electric fencing around its perimeter or plant petunias in hanging baskets out of their reach. Try spraying plants with repellents that work either by taste or odor. Follow label instructions and renew the spray after it rains. Install unobtrusive black polynetting around the entire property if you have intractable deer problems.

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