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How to Prune Petunias Properly: A Short Tutorial

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Are you pruning your petunias properly?

Are you pruning your petunias properly?

Great Flower for Planters and Gardens

Petunias are a beautiful flower that comes in a wide range of colors (red, white, pink, purple) and types (normal and wave). It's a perfect flower for planters and hanging baskets, as well as for adding a splash of color to a garden. They live best in the sun, but in my experience you can plant them anywhere and they'll look beautiful.

How to Keep Petunias Flowering

The key to keeping petunias flowering is proper pruning technique. This is the part that most people don't like because it's a hassle, it's too hard, or they just don't know how to do it.

Most people will simply pull off the dead flowers and call it good. However, this is not sufficient because the seed pod is still left behind. The plant's goal is to make a seed, and once they accomplish that goal they no longer have a reason to flower. This means that you need to remove the seed pod in order to encourage the plant to flower again.

Bottom line: If you remove the seed pod the plant will keep flowering.

You can see a dead flower in the center of the image.

You can see a dead flower in the center of the image.

Remove the Dead Flower and the Seed Pod

In the photo above you can see several good flowers, but in the center is a dead flower. Dead flowers make the plant look bad, and they are something you want to get rid of right away.

It is very important, however, to not simply pull off the dead flower. They come off rather easily, and you can easily be lulled into thinking you're done with your job.

In the photo below you will see a close-up of the seed pod. This is what you need to remove if you want your plant to keep flowering. A new flower will grow where this seed pod has been removed. This will keep your plant from getting long and stringy.

Here you can see the seed pod that needs to be removed.

Here you can see the seed pod that needs to be removed.

Removed seed pod

Removed seed pod

How to Remove the Seed Pod

If you have long fingernails you can usually just pinch the bottom (closest to the stem of the plant) and remove the seed pod easily. If you have a lot of seed pods to remove I would recommend using scissors—it makes the job go faster and it hurts your fingers less. Sometimes the seed pods are easier to remove, and sometimes they are more difficult.

Be Careful Not to Remove the Flower Bud

In the next picture I tried to photograph the bud so you would know what not to remove. Unfortunately, my device doesn't take great close-ups. But if you look your plant over you should be able to see the many stages the flower goes through: from bud to bloom to seed pod.

The yellow bit in the center of the image is the bud. (Apologies for the slightly blurry photo.)

The yellow bit in the center of the image is the bud. (Apologies for the slightly blurry photo.)

Enjoy Your Blooms!

I hope this tutorial has helped you learn how to properly prune petunias.

As it turns out, the tips I've shared here apply to many other types of flowers, as well. Figure out what the seed pod looks like and where it is located, cut it off, and you'll get more flowers. It's very simple. Just watch your plant and you'll be able to spot newly growing blooms versus those that are on their way out.

Best of luck on your gardening journey!

More About Petunias

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Rosario Flores on July 13, 2019:

Thank you so very much

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 13, 2018:

This is the frist year I have cut off these seed pods as we started our gardening early in the Spring and not in late June so my petunias now need trimming. I hope it will continue to flower.

Christine Taber on June 22, 2018:

This was helpful info. If you do it wrong, there are so many flower seeds, that soon the plant looks dead.

Jill Spencer from United States on April 29, 2014:

What a good hub with good info and easy-to-see pictures of what you're talking about. Voted up & shared.

Jeff Gamble from Denton, Texas on June 25, 2012:

Great tips nochance - seed pod is the key