How to prune petunias?

by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener

A hanging basket of petunias is sure to reward you with a bounty of colorful blooms all summer, that is, if you take care of it properly.

Watering and fertilizing is critical when it comes to caring for petunias in a hanging basket. Keep in mind that a basket is limited to how much soil and roots it can hold and this soil is where the roots obtain the plants food and water.

One of the most asked questions is how often to water. The answer is simple: water when the top inch of the soil feels dry when you stick your finger in it. Hanging petunia plants will most likely need to be watered daily during the summer, and maybe even twice, when the weather is extremely hot and/or there is a strong wind. Water well enough that the excess water will drip out of the drain hole. Never allow the soil to remain continually wet. Your petunia roots are likely to rot in in such a soggy condition. If it is possible, water the soil, not the leaves. Wet leaves can lead to fungal infection.

Feed petunias every week using a water soluble fertilizer for flowering annuals. Petunias are heavy feeders because they grow at a fast rate and produce many blooms. I like to use a diluted fertilizer solution every day since I water my basket until the water drips out the drain hole. Because I water this way, I am not flushing nutrients out as I would be if I used plain water.

Adequate sun is an important requirement for successfully growing petunias. They need at least five to six hours of sunlight, but they will perform even better if they are located in full sunlight all day long. The more shade they are in, the less blooms they will produce. If your basket is hanging under a porch eve, be sure to rotate your basket of flowers every week so the dark side can get some sun.

Remove wilted flowers as soon as they fade, otherwise the plant will go to seed and stop blooming early. Besides that, the plant will just look much nicer.

Can you prune your petunia? Yes you can. Petunias produce blooms at the tip of each branch. Since branches continually get longer, as summer progresses they have more and more flowerless greenery. You need to provide them new tips where more flowers can grow. Cut back each stem by about one-third to one-half when they start looking scraggly and tired in midsummer. This will rejuvenate them and you will soon see a burst of new blooms.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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Pruning Petunias – Information On Cutting Back Petunia Plants

No plant fills a container or a bed with glorious colors faster than petunias, the workhorse flowers of the summer garden. But as is the case in so many relationships, your admiration for your petunias may fade as the first flush of blossoms die and the plant begins to appear leggy and straggly. Even if you deadhead furiously, clipping off all those faded blossoms, the stems just keep growing longer. Do petunias need pruning? Yes, they do. Read on for more information about how to cut back petunias.

Do Petunias Need Pruning?

Many gardeners view annuals as disposable and simply don’t know how to cut back petunias. But cutting back petunia plants is essential to keeping them looking their best during their short stay in your garden.

You must have noticed how, over time, your fabulous hanging petunia baskets suddenly look awful, with stringy, yard-long stems dangling limply down the side of the pot. The leaves are yellowing and the few colorful flowers hold onto the

ends of the stems like sailors climbing out of the sea on ropes tossed their way. This is especially maddening when your neighbors on both sides have petunia baskets brimming with bright flowers all summer long.

Pruning petunias makes the difference. Do petunias need pruning? They absolutely do, and the difference between gorgeous hanging baskets and stringy-looking ones involves appropriate trimming of these plants.

How to Cut Back Petunias

It’s easy enough to keep your petunias attractive all summer long if you begin early with maintenance and keep at it through the life of the plant. Maintenance is especially important if you brought home a full and flowering hanging basket in late spring.

Before you begin cutting back petunia plants, take a close look at them. Notice that the plants – whether they are the Wave varieties, Super Petunias or just regular ones – only produce flowers at the very end of the stems. That means that as those stems grow longer, you’ll have flowers at the very end of bare stems.

For best results, start pruning petunias soon after you install them in your yard. Cutting back petunia plants is not hard. You need to clip a few stems every week. Start early, even if this means you must trim off stems that have attractive flowers on them. Whenever your petunia stems are eight inches long or longer, begin the pruning schedule. If your plants are small when you buy them and the stems are shorter than eight inches, you can wait awhile to clip.

Here’s how to cut back petunias. Each week, you clip three or four stems in half, making the cuts above a node. The petunia plant will then produce two new growing tips just below each cut, and those tips will begin flowering soon. Pruning petunias regularly from the time you buy them will keep your plant gorgeous and healthy.

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How to revive potted petunias that are looking done in. Struggling to survive and not blooming in mid Summer. They needed help and this is what I did to get fresh new blooms on a failing plant.

Reviving potted petunias for more beautiful blooms all summer long! Refreshing your sad looking, leggy petunias is easy and gives them new life for months. Petunia maintenance 101.

PIN for later…

I bought these large hanging potted petunias at a wholesale nursery in May. They were big and luscious, full of purple and white petunias. Diligently I watered and fed with an organic liquid plant food over the next weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeousness they added to my side porch.

But after awhile I noticed they seemed to be suffering, looking wilted and pathetic. I watered some more, thinking that maybe I just wasn’t keeping up with their needs. After all we were having an early heat wave and it was dang hot! (which I love)

Reviving Potted Petunias

No matter how much I watered they did not bounce back. I checked for spider mites (nasty little critters) and other infestations but they were clean. Just ugly.

The Problem

I felt the soil and noticed it was like a brick. The petunias were not only root bound but the soil used for the hanging basket had turned into a rock. This can happen very easily and is just as easy to fix.

To avoid this situation when I pot up my own hanging baskets I make sure there is plenty of substance added to my potting soil to keep it loose and free draining. Additives like perlite (the little white pebble looking things in good potting soil) works wonders. For my complete DIY Potting soil recipe, visit this post.

The Fix for Leggy Petunias

Give the plants a good soak. Take a Garden knife shove the blade down into the moistened brick of soil in the pot. I wiggle it to make holes throughout now solid chunk of soil.

I add some fresh good quality potting soil then water it in so it filters down into the spaces I created with the knife.

Get Tough

I cut back this petunia plants severely. All the way to the rim of the pot.

If you are just doing a refurbishing prune up that many annual potted plants may need about mid-summer and they don’t look as sorry as these specimens, you can prune up to about the bottom of the pot and it is enough.

But reviving potted petunias that have gotten this sorry need a more drastic haircut. So I whacked them off to the rim of the pot. I figured it was do or die. As awful as they were looking it could only go up from here.

Patiently Wait

I hung them back up and kept up with watering and feeding. My roses climbing the porch posts were in full bloom and stealing the show anyways so the petunia baskets just showing a bit of green was not a huge loss for the time being.

What do you think happened? Did they kick up their toes and call it quits?

Well you be the judge.

This transformation from pathetic stubby stems to gorgeous blooms took about 3 weeks and they are still going strong.

So the moral of the story…. don’t be afraid to prune up if you need to revive or refresh your potted petunias (or other annuals).

I wish you all bounteous blooms in your gardens.

Happy Gardening!

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Pinching, Pruning and Deadheading

Except for tomato plants, which can be trained to grow in a number of different ways, most vegetable garden plants need little or no pruning. Flowers, however, are a different story.

Pinching and Pruning
Pinching and pruning refer to tasks that involve removing certain parts of the plant, usually to stimulate it to produce more flowers or achieve better form. Pinching back is usually done when the plants are quite small. This is done to encourage them to produce lots of side shoots and form a bushy, flower-filled plant. To pinch back, simply remove the growing tip using your thumb and forefinger. See sidebar for a list of flowers that benefit from pinching back.

Annual plants rarely need drastic pruning. By midsummer, however, some plants, such as petunias, will start to become leggy, with flowers concentrated at the ends of the branches. You can help the plant maintain a nice bushy form by pruning back one of the longest branches once a week or so. Prune way back to a set of leaves near the main stem; sprouts will form at the leaf axils, and these shoots will keep the plant bushy.

This is “garden jargon” for removing faded flowers from plants, and it’s an important part of keeping many annuals, including petunias, marigolds, and zinnias, flowering all summer.

Botanically speaking, the “goal” of annual flowering plants is to reproduce — that is, to form flowers, achieve pollination, and subsequently produce seeds. Once seeds are formed, the annual plant has completed its mission, and it begins to die back. How can you keep the plant alive and blooming? By deadheading, you’re removing the developing seeds. The plant is tricked into producing more flowers, and more seeds, which you then remove … and on and on.

Be sure to remove the developing seeds! On petunias, for example, it’s easy to make the mistake of removing just the petals. However, if you look closely at what’s left, you’ll see a small, pointed seed pod where the petals were attached. Be sure to remove this seed pod too. You can use your fingers to pinch off petunia flowers; however, you may need pruners to deadhead flowers with tougher stems.

If you just pull off the petunia flower… … you’ll leave the developing seed pod.

Instead, snap off the stem
just behind the flower.

Well, we’ve covered most of the basics of plant maintenance in this class. The focus of our next (and final) class is troubleshooting, or identifying problems in the garden. Once we’ve identified some common problems, we’ll look at ways to manage them. See you then!

Class 5, Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I have been giving several workshops and here is the information on one of them. HOW to deadhead petunias. I watch gardeners are they pick up their petunias and how they take care of the dead bloom. Many just pull the bloom out of the stem, which is wrong because you are leaving the seed there to develop. The plant wants to survive so all the energy will go into the seed and that is when they get lanky because of the reason to survive. I found this great article and pictures. Hope you can see the correct way to do the deadheading of petunias.
There are several ways to deadhead petunias, including hand pinching and shearing. Pruning them every few weeks, or at mid-summer, will help them to fill out and bloom longer. Method 1 Pinching Petunia Blooms
Check what type of petunias you are growing. Find the seeds or the plant markers. If they are new types of petunias, like Wave or Tidal Wave, they don’t need to be deadheaded.
Many new petunias have been engineered to be low-maintenance. They will fill out without being deadheaded.
Start with pinching petunia blooms. If you have never deadheaded a flower before, you may feel more comfortable pinching off spent flowers than cutting the plant itself.
Get close to the plant, like you are weeding. Fading blooms can be hard to see after a few weeks, and you will need to get your hands dirty. Avoid wearing thick gardening gloves, because you are more likely to hurt the plant.
Find a spent bloom above a new bloom. Move 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) up, or just above the bud. Grasp it with your thumb and forefinger and pull.
It should come off easily. Discard the bloom in the compost.
Repeat with each dead bloom on the same stem. Then, move onto a new stem. Herbaceous plants like petunias can have dozens of blooms on a single stem, so plan to deadhead every few weeks during growing season.
Pinch growing tips at mid-summer. If you find your petunias are getting “leggy,” meaning each stem is long and hanging toward the ground, you should pinch off growing tips. Grasp the stem lightly and find the thickest bud at the top of a set of blooms.
Pinch it between your thumb and forefinger to pluck it off. In this case, you are plucking an actively growing part of the plant, instead of a dying part.
This type of deadheading will encourage new buds below that point to bloom. It will also make the plant look thicker and healthier.
Method 2
Pruning Petunia Blooms
Allow your petunias to start blooming. You should wait to prune the plants until they are getting 6 or more hours of sun a day and they are filled with blooms. Once blooms start to die, you can start deadheading.
Get a sharp pair of pruning shears or scissors. Unlike deadheading by hand, the plant will do best with a sharp cut.
Pick up a petunia stem gently. Choose 1 that has several dying blooms on it. Find a point just below all the dead blooms.
taken from Look at this website for some great pictures to explain how to do this.
Till next time, this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse, Dougherty, Iowa

Succeeding with Supertunia® Petunias

Above: Supertunia® performance in hanging baskets, containers and in the landscape.

Supertunia petunias are the most popular annuals we sell and have been for decades. Why do people keep planting Supertunias? It might be because they bloom prolifically from spring into fall without quitting or needing to be deadheaded. Maybe it’s because their broad color palette makes it easy to find one that matches your look. Maybe it’s because people enjoy watching butterflies and hummingbirds come to Supertunias for an afternoon snack. Or maybe it’s because they are so versatile in containers, hanging baskets and landscapes.

Want to grow amazing Supertunia petunias like these? Follow these tips for best success.

Petunias grow and bloom best in sun.

  • If you have at least 6 hours of direct sun per day, you can grow Supertunias. More than 6 hours is even better.
  • Sun is what generates energy in plants, so the more sun they get, the stronger the plants will grow and the more flowers they will produce.
  • If your Supertunias look healthy but aren’t growing very fast or have few flowers, move them to a sunnier location.

Provide consistent moisture.

  • Water is the lifeblood of plants. It needs to stream up from their roots and evaporate out through their leaves in a continuous flow.
  • When a plant wilts, that flow of water stops and the plants quit growing and blooming until it resumes. Avoid stalling out your plants’ growth by providing consistent moisture.
  • Depending on your climate and the time of year, your Supertunias may dry out quickly. It’s time to water when the pot feels light and/or the soil feels dry to the touch when you stick your finger down into it about an inch.
  • Supertunia petunias respond very well to a drip watering system like WaterWise®. When set to a timer, it can automatically water your plants on a set schedule, providing the consistency that makes them thrive.

Petunias are hungry flowers. Feed them often.

  • While the sun gives plants energy, the minerals and nutrients in plant food give the plants what they need to grow new leaves and flowers. If your petunias are growing in full sun but have stopped blooming well, they are probably hungry.
  • Petunias are like hungry teenagers. They like to be fed often. We recommend feeding them with our premium water soluble plant food every third time you water. Why do we call it “premium”? Because it contains EDDHA Iron and minor nutrients which keep the foliage green, full and healthy all season.
  • In addition to the water soluble plant food, we recommend incorporating our premium continuous release plant food, which comes in a pellet form, into the soil around your Supertunias when you plant them in spring. The special coating on the pellets is designed to release more food during warmer months when your plants are growing the fastest.

Petunias enjoy a haircut now and then.

  • You know how a fresh haircut gives us a little pep in our step? The same goes for petunias.
  • By midsummer, say after your July Fourth party, it’s time to give your Supertunias a little trim to rejuvenate the plants heading into the heat of summer. Follow the rule of thumb of not cutting off more than 20% of the plant and you can’t go wrong.
  • If some stems have grown longer than others, trim them up to bring them in line with the others near the bottom of the pot or basket. If you’re growing them in the ground, cut back the ends of the branches by 20% to encourage them to branch out with new growth.
  • Trimming the ends of the stems will cause your petunias to be out of bloom for a few days, but you’ll be surprised how quickly they bounce back and look better than ever.
  • Repeat this trimming process in late summer or early fall to keep your Supertunias blooming well into the fall months.

Supertunia petunias are available in a wide range of colors. Choose your favorites to complement your outdoor decor or express garden style. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Supertunia® Latte™ ideas

Supertunia® Limoncello® ideas

Supertunia® Honey™ ideas

Supertunia® Black Cherry® ideas

Supertunia Vista® ideas

Supertunia® Royal Velvet® ideas

Supertunia® Bordeaux™ ideas

Looking for more ideas?

  • See all colors of Supertunia petunias
  • Browse all Supertunia petunia container recipes
  • Save pins from our Supertunia petunia Pinterest board
  • Request our FREE 36-page Gardener’s Idea Book

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