How To Keep My Petunias From Becoming Leggy

Petunias growing in a patio container

Our master gardener, Karen, tells you how to keep your petunias from becoming leggy:

Hello. I love petunias and last summer I planted my patio planters strictly with petunias. They looked gorgeous until the end of June, when the centers of the plants (obviously the older part of the stems) became bare, resulting in the tops of the planters looking bare and ugly. Is there a petunia variety that stays bushy, not leggy, and flowers continually? I’d like to know if there is.

Thank you, Susan M.

Answer: Most petunias need to be pinched back during the growing season and they need regular fertilization to keep them blooming all summer long.

If you purchase them pre-planted in a basket, they have been pruned regularly to branch out and are constantly fed to be at the peak of blooming when you purchase them.

Trimming petunias the proper way

But if you have planted the basket yourself with individual plants, like these petunia, trim off the top inch or so when planting. Be sure they are receiving a full 6 hours of sun to keep them blooming. Feed them every 7-14 days with a water-soluble fertilizer, and keep them evenly moist.

As they start to become leggy, prune off about half of the stem, making sure you leave some of the leaves on the plant. This will rejuvenate them and encourage more growth and blooms. Watch Laura demonstrate how in this video.

Some recommend doing this to a third of the plant on a weekly basis so it’s constantly regrowing.  This should help to keep all the varieties flowering vigorously.

Happy Growing, Karen

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