Pruning Petunias

Tips on Pruning Petunias


Petunias are attractive and very popular annual plants that can be grown in a variety of situations, and pruning petunias will help them grow better and produce bright colored flowers all season long.  Originally native to Argentina, petunias are extremely widespread plants used by gardeners all around the country for their bright colors and attractive foliage. This foliage can appear hairy looking and is often sticky to touch. These low lying annuals are well-liked because they are low maintenance plants that experience continual growing. With minimal management, petunias can bloom all summer long and come in a wide array of whites, yellows, reds, purples, pinks or any variation of mixed colored hybrids.


Petunias can be grown outdoors in beds, containers, hanging baskets and window boxes. They make wonderful borders or edges as well. Petunias grow best if they receive at least 6 hours of full sunlight and are planted in well draining soil that is not in either pH extreme. They are not frost tolerant, and although the seeds can be started indoors, these plants should not be planted until after the last frost. They usually require only moderate watering, but will not fare well during droughts unless they are watered regularly. There are many different varieties of petunias to suit your style or garden type, including varieties with different heights and bloom abundances. These plants can be small or large and have single or double blooms. It is a good idea to fertilize your petunias monthly in order to provide them with the energy they need to bloom.


While petunias was relatively maintenance free, occasionally pruning them will help them to produce more flowers all season, grow bushier and more attractive and will keep them looking clean all season. The first step to pruning petunias is deadheading them. This requires that you move along each stem and remove all of the flowers that have become wilted or faded. Removing dead blossoms can be done easily with your fingers and helps to reduce disease and keep your plants looking clean. Once the flowers are gone, they leave behind spent blossoms that should be removed before they go to seed. Once the plant goes to seed it will no longer produce flowers. You can tell the difference between budding flowers and spent blossoms as spent blossoms will have an open appearance and buds will be closed. Pinch or cut off these spent blossoms to prevent the plant from going to seed and to allow for continual flowering all summer long.


You will want your petunias to have a nice compact, bushy appearance with lots of leaves and flowers. Sometimes these plants can become ‘leggy’ or when they have lots of stem and less flowers and leaves. These plants are not very attractive and can be refreshed by cutting the stem all the back and allowing it to re-grow. You can prevent your petunia plants from becoming ‘leggy’ by pruning back growing tips. To do this, find the point on each stem, usually located near the tip, where new growth is coming from and pinch that tip off. This will force new growth from the tiny leaves along the stem, resulting in a bushier and more attractive plant. This type of pruning can also be done easily with your fingers or scissors.


Pruning petunias properly may take a small amount of time and effort, but it is an enjoyable experience to most gardeners. The up side to your hard work is brilliantly colorful flowers that will re-bloom all summer long and fill your garden with color. This is one of the many reasons why petunias are such popular plants among professional and amateur gardeners alike.