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How to Care for Petunia

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How to Care for Petunia

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Petunias will bloom all season long. image by SwamiStream/Flickr, colinD40/Flickr, Joka2000/Flickr, Joe Shlabotnik, Flickr

Overview

Petunias are noted for their trumpet-shaped flowers and vibrant shades spanning from light rose and magenta to pale blue and a rich, deep purple. Petunias thrive in pots, hanging containers, in beds and some varieties are used as ground cover. If you are looking to have your backyard garden become awash with color, consider the petunia as an easy addition to your home landscape.

Planting

Step 1

Choose a spot of soil that gets full sun, with only a few hours of shade. The soil needs to be raked and well-drained. Add in compost, about a 1 to 2 inch layer.

Step 2

Space petunia seedlings according to how big they are likely to get. The larger varieties need to be at least 12 inches apart, while smaller plants can be placed closer together, with a minimum spacing of about 5 inches apart.

Step 3

Spread a layer of mulch around the plants to retain moisture and ward off weeds.

Step 4

Make sure that the plant is receiving enough sun and water every three days, especially when planting in pots or window boxes.

Maintenance

Step 1

Fertilize your petunias about once a month to encourage growth, by working a balanced fertilizer into moist soil.

Step 2

Do not over-water. Petunias are generally drought-tolerant, but check the soil's dryness on hot days and during periods without rainfall when daily watering may be necessary.

Step 3

Prune back petunias to encourage new growth. Pinch off the dead flower and cut back about a third of the stems. Start with one stem and after a week or two when new growth has formed, cut back another stem. If you cut back all of the stems at once you could risk killing the plant.

Problems to Look Out For

Step 1

Avoid infection of your plant by soil-borne fungus. Water from the bottom of the plant. Ensure that your petunia plants are not tightly packed next to each other.

Step 2

Look out for white flies and caterpillars, which will eat holes in the leaves and petals of your plant. Lightly spray the plant to scatter the white flies and pick off caterpillars.

Step 3

Add a supplemental fertilizer to retain its natural, vibrant color if the petunia foliage becomes discolored and yellow.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always plant petunias when the weather is warm and pleasant. Avoid times of frost or heavy storms.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning sheers
  • Gardening gloves
  • Rake
  • Trowel
  • Fertilizer
  • Compost

References

  • The National Garden Bureau
  • University of Minnesota Facts by Deborah Brown
Keywords: petunias, gardening, planting, maintenance

About this Author

Alexa Evans is a freelance writer and marketing editor based in San Diego, Calif. Evans has been published in "Tango Diva," "Map Vivo" and "Trazzler." She earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Photo by: SwamiStream/Flickr, colinD40/Flickr, Joka2000/Flickr, Joe Shlabotnik, Flickr