Petunias can be some of the most eye-catching summer flowers, but they can also start to look a little sad as the season wears on. Today I’m sharing what to do to fix leggy petunias so they’ll look full and beautiful all summer long!
I’ve definitely had some good petunia years and some bad ones. Sometimes they seem to stay full and beautiful all on their own, and some years they seem to get really scraggly-looking within just a few weeks. I had one particular type that I just couldn’t keep up with a couple of years ago and they made me almost swear off petunias completely because they looked so disastrous, but luckily I’ve learned that it’s not the petunias, it’s me. 🙂 Here’s how to fix leggy petunias and make them look fuller if yours are looking a little sad this summer.
First of all, here are my petunias that I’ve been kind of neglecting for the past few weeks in anticipation of this post. It’s pretty common for petunias to look like this by this point in the summer.
Tips to Help You Fix Leggy Petunias
Lots of Water
It’s no coincidence that my best petunia years have been the years where we’ve had a ton of rain. I’ve actually never really had to develop great plant-watering routines because my plants have always mostly been watered naturally by the rain. Every once in awhile, like this year, we’ll have a dry spell and these are really the beginning of the end for my beautiful petunias. Although I’ve done a pretty great job of keeping up with the watering overall – if I do say so myself – it’s just not enough for the petunias. During these really hot and dry spells, petunias in containers may actually need to be watered more than everyday. Twice a day is probably what you’re looking at for best results.
A lot of annuals need regular deadheading during the summer to look their best and petunias are probably one of the most needy of the bunch when it comes to deadheading. If you’re looking to fix leggy petunias though, and make them look more full, simply removing the spent blooms isn’t going to cut it. Here you can see a spent bloom next to a new bud that’s about to bloom any second now.
To properly deadhead a petunia, you also need to remove the entire seed pod from the plant. This is the tiny little green nub that remains after you remove a spent bloom.
As the seed pods get a little bit older, they’ll start to turn brown, so look for the brown nubs as well. The whole stem below the little nub will turn brown as well and you can just clip that whole section off. The nubs and stems don’t come off as easily as the spent flowers do, so grab a pair of garden shears to make the job easier and cleaner.
One thing that I didn’t realize early on in my petunias struggles is that petunias actually need regular pruning to remain full and more compact. If you don’t prune your petunias, you’ll often end up with long, empty stems with a flower or two at the very end AKA leggy petunias. 🙂
You’ll want to prune your petunias every few weeks, removing the top 1/4-1/2 of each stem of your plant. This can feel a little tough to do, especially when everything is in full bloom, so feel free to prune just a few of the longest stems one week, and a few others the next week. That way you’ll have some stems in full bloom and others that are regenerating themselves at all times.
When you go to prune your petunias, try to leave at least a few leaves on each stem, and trim just above a “node”, which is the spot where a pair of leaves meet the stem.
As you can see, I removed quite a bit, but I’m left with a really healthy looking little plant full of fresh new leaves and very little of the crispy brown leaves and stems that were covering the old plant and making it look so sad.
Here’s everything I removed.
And here’s the little friend that came along to watch. 🙂
Follow Up Steps to Fix Leggy Petunias
After you’ve completed your pruning steps for making your petunias fuller, things should start to look pretty great within a couple of weeks. You’ll want to keep up with your new watering schedule on an ongoing basis if your weather is really hot and dry and make sure you’re deadheading correctly at least every 3 days. When you start to see a few long, lanky stems getting out of control again, it’s time to start pruning!
If you’ve ever wondered how people are able to still have beautiful, full planters of petunias well into the fall months, this is what they do!
Have you ever dealt with leggy petunias? What are your favourite petunia tricks?
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