The Q&A Archives: dead heading petunias

Question: i have been told of the advantages of dead heading. when dead heading petunias do you remove only the faded flower portion or go completly to the main stem? when i do the later i end up with a viney plant rather than a full bushy one.

Answer: When you deadhead a petunia you need to remove the whole flower -- the petals plus the bulge at the base. The reason for deadheading is to prevent seed formation, thus preserving the plant's energy for blooming. Some people nip the blooms off with their finger nails, other people use a scissors or hand pruner. If you cut them it is easier to get closer to the main stem. Either way though, eventually you will have a long and leggy plant. For this reason many gardeners will trim back the overall plant in early August or so. They also make sure to keep the plant well watered and fertilized. This stimulates vigorous new growth and blooming through the fall. Also, some varieties do better at staying compact than others. And, some, such as the Wave series do not need to be deadheaded at all. (They still may benefit from being cut back.)

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