Petunias are one of the most popular plants to grow for people everywhere, and for good reason. They come in a myriad of colors and availability. You can almost always find a color to compliment your décor or other flowers in your landscape.
Petunia are heat tolerant, drought tolerant, and sun tolerant. They love lots of sunlight to get the most blooms.
They work wonderful in containers. They are amazing in hanging baskets and will provide season long blooms of color if taken care of properly.
Let’s face it, petunias in a hanging basket with flowers cascading down over the sides is one of the most glorious sights you’ll see.
Petunias are also some of the fastest growing plants you can buy to beautify your garden. This can result in them becoming leggy and pretty unsightly in a short period of time.
To keep your petunias looking great try to implement these tips during your blooming season. These are techniques I use in the hot, humid southeastern United States. It can seem like a lot of work but by doing a little at a time, you’ll reap huge benefits with these beautiful flowers.
Start With Good Petunia Varieties
The main thing you want to do, as with any plant in my opinion, is to get a variety that suits your needs. It’s very tempting to buy that flat of 12 for 6$ on the bargain shelf.
If you are willing to spend a little more to grow a Wave or Supertunia variety, their performance will blow your mind.
If you are looking to fill a pot for a short time, the cheap ones will do great, but require lots more maintenance.
The aforementioned do not require dead heading or pinching in order to look great for quite a long time.
Water a Little Less Often
How often to water petunias in a hanging basket is probably the MOST common question I hear.
I have had the best luck with my petunias when they are allowed to dry out for a while. Even if you skip a day or two depending on the weather, of course. Sometimes even going past the droopy stage before watering has kicked new life into their blooming habits.
Hanging baskets and containers need to be potted with well draining potting soil or whatever medium you are using so you can give them a deep watering without worrying about their roots sitting in water for any amount of time.
Cut Them Back
Pruning petunias in a hanging basket is the single most important thing you can do to keep them looking their best!
This has to be one of the average gardener’s biggest fear! It took me years to finally break down and start cutting things back. I couldn’t bear to sacrifice blooms for fear of what may happen.
Nowadays I cut almost everything I own back pretty regularly and Petunia’s being the most often. Pinching the ends creates new growth in a very short amount of time.
Cutting the branches back to about 4 inches or so, but no more than about a third of the plant stems length, and starting over in early Summer is my newest routine. You can cut them back anytime during the growing season. Once you let them get past a certain point where there are no leaves on the stem, its hard for them to fill in and look nice. If you wait to long, some may never recover.
Petunia’s are heavy bloomers and require lots of sun and energy to make this happen. Fertilizing with a slow release fertilizer is key to keeping them looking good longer.
I recommend a weekly liquid fertilizer as well. You will definitely see a difference once you get into a regular schedule of feeding them.
Treat Them for Pests
You may go an entire season without bug problems. Once the caterpillars find your flowers though, they can wreak havoc on your plants overnight.
Aphids, snails, earwigs and other pesky insects love to chew on the leaves and new tender buds of petunias. Once they hit, they damage is already done and your plant will not look its best unless you cut off the damaged limbs and start over.
It is best to go ahead and treat your plants before it happens.
Pesticides To Use
Bacillus Thuringiensis is the best thing to protect against caterpillars. It comes in a few different commercial products, one being Thuricide.
It is a naturally occurring bacteria that affects the digestive systems of the caterpillar. This is a great product because it won’t harm Bees or other beneficial insects, or your plants!
Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil is best to treat just about any other pest including Aphids and Mites, without damage to your petunia.
When The Growing Gets Tough
Petunias are a wonderful addition to any garden. They are sold as annuals but in southern Alabama I have one particular Petunia that has come back for the last three years. It all depends on your climate.
They may suffer a bit through the hottest part of the summer, so move them to a part shade area if possible, during this time. Once this time is over though, they will experience a new growth spurt and therefore another wave of blooming through the end of the season.
With a little extra care you can keep your petunias looking great all the way through the season! So get on out there ! I know it’s hot but your Petunias are suffering too !
Try a few of these tips to bring them back to their former glory!