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How to Prune Petunias

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017

Petunias are an annual flower that blooms late spring until the first frost in fall. They come in nearly every color imaginable, and each plant produces a profusion of flowers. They work well in garden beds, in borders and in containers on patios and balconies. They are disease and pest resistant and require only minimal maintenance in order to thrive. Pruning helps control both the height of the plant and encourages further blooming throughout summer and into fall.

Pinch off the top of each stem after transplanting outdoors. Grasp each stem between your thumb and forefinger one inch from the top and pinch it off. This encourages branching and leads to a bushier, fuller appearance.

Cut back the petunias at mid-summer once they begin to become leggy and flowering slows down. Cut each stem down to half its height with sharp shears, making sure to leave at least one set of leaves on each stem after pruning.

Fertilize with a balanced liquid fertilizer after cutting back to encourage quick growth. Water thoroughly after fertilizing so the roots quickly gain access to the new nutrients.

Deadhead the spent flowers from the large blooming petunia varieties throughout the flowering season. Pinch them off one-fourth inch beneath the flower head as soon as the petals begin to wither. This prevents the formation of seed heads and leads to further blooms.

Continue deadheading until the plants cease blooming in fall and begin to die. Remove the plants from the beds and discard them at this point so the bed is read for next year's petunia planting.


Things You Will Need

  • Shears
  • Fertilizer


  • Small petunia varieties do not require deadheading.
  • Cut back the petunias to only three to six inches high if the bed looks particularly damaged. Make sure to leave at least one leaf set per stem.


  • Do not cut back trailing petunia varieties. These are often planted in hanging baskets.

About the Author


Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.