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How To Deadhead Petunias – Complete Guide

Do you wish to trick your Petunias into producing more vibrant blooms instead of seeds? 

I have been deadheading Petunias in my indoor garden for the last few years, and it really helps me get new blossoms every few weeks. 

To deadhead Petunias, use fingertips or other tools such as scissors and shears to cut off the base of dead and wilted flowers. One needs to deadhead Petunias during mid-summer to ensure new blooms.

A hanging pot containing pink, purple, dark blue colred variety of Petunia beside a white wall.
Petunias, as versatile annuals, provide a decorative and beautiful cover for ground, hanging pots, and borders.

As Petunias are annual for the frost regions, they can live up to 2 to 3 years in warmer regions and bloom in every growing season but can be challenging to handle.

There can be different signs, including the browning of flowers or leggy stems, indicating that they are ready for deadheading.

If you are a newbie to deadheading, this article can be your time-saver!

Is It Necessary To Deadhead Petunias?

Petunias bloom mainly from the early spring to the early frost, but during the mid-summer, they take off as bushy and leggy plants and start turning brown. 

Deadheading is necessary to shift Petunias’ focus entirely on growing and giving rise to vibrant blossoms ranging from yellow to white through pink, red, blues, and purples. 

A group of colorful cut off Petunias
Petunias do not contain toxicity, so they are safe for children and pets.

However, if you plan to harvest seeds for the next growing season, better not to deadhead Petunias. Let the blooms take their natural course in forming seeds attached to their parent plant body.

If your primary focus is the vibrant blooms with controlled growth of the trails, then do deadhead the Petunias.

Deadheading Petunias also offers numerous advantages and some are here you can leverage.

  • You can use clipped off Petunias as a garnish for your dinner plate and salads.
  • New blooms help to restore your mood and keep you stress-free.
  • The cut Petunias add beautification to your outdoor party as they can last 4 to 6 days as a cut flower.
  • It induces the growth of new blooms and attracts pollinators to your garden.
Pink Petunias flowers put over a white plate.
Deadheading the Petunias is vital to keep the garden filled with colorful blooms.

Without deadheading, your Petunias can take up an entire space of your indoor space as their trails can attain an excellent growing pace with fewer blooms.

New types of Petunias variety like Wave, Tidal Wave, and Supertunia do not need deadheading as they have the self-cleaning ability.

When To Deadhead Petunias?

There are no strict rules or formulas for when to deadhead Petunias.

You can check the plant for deadheading while you are taking a troll over the rooms, passing by the pots of Petunias, or even when you notice bushy or brown wilted flowers.

Also, deadheading Petunias once a week during mid-summer can help avoid messy stems without any flowers for an entire season.

A person is holding on a red petunia with some brown speckles on it.
Browning of Petunias flower can be due to root rot or when the bloom has come to its end and demands for deadheading.

You can even try deadheading if you wish for more prominent flowers instead of new blooms. Here you can cut off the new buds just above the green stems.

Some of the signs that you can look upon for deadheading can be!

  • When the flower petals start to fade away with spindly stems
  • The petals begin to have brown spots and speckles
  • Flower density over a stem increases
  • Drooping and wilting of the flowers
  • Flowers start to dry up and begin making seed pods

You can pinch the dry and brown blooms with your forefinger and thumb just beneath the flower base and the seed pod.

But better not to pull off the dead flowers of Petunias as they give a shock to the plant’s stem and root and may pull an entire trail of the plant.

How To Deadhead Petunias?

Deadhead sounds like a simple thing, but a small mistake can affect the plant’s entire life, so you should be as careful as possible.

You can do it similarly to the deadheading of Pansies and Geraniums by using your thumbnails for pinching or by using pruning tools to separate the flowers smoothly and entirely.

I have listed some of the tools that can be useful for deadheading Petunias.

ScissorsSimple tool with sturdy metal used for trimming and deadheading
Deadheading SnipsSmall, pocket-sized scissor with a comfortable grip and control used to cut spent flowers, finished roses, and other parts of the plant
ShearsCoarse or fine-toothed curved blades used for cutting branches and inflorescence containing more than one flower over a stem
BasketEither a flat plate or a rounded container used to collect the snipped flowers
Safety Goggles For extra protection to eyes
Gardening GlovesTo protect your hand while cutting through blades but not at the time of pinching
Isopropyl AlcoholTo sterilize gardening equipment
Gardening MasksUseful for those who are allergic to pollen

Steps of Deadheading Petunias

Deadheading Petunias in pots or gardens is not different as you need to remove spent flowers and trailing Petunias stems in both conditions.

You can follow the following steps while performing deadheading with sharp tools without disturbing the entire plant.

  • Let the Petunias attain full bloom and start deadheading when flowers begin to wilt.
  • First, prune the flowers that have dried out, just below their base, by using sharp, sterilized scissors or shears.

Remember to cut without hurting the growing stems and be careful with blades as they can hurt your fingers.

  • You should cut one stem if the plant is small in size and 8-12 stems if the plant size is big.
  • If the trails are more prolonged and leggy, trim at least half the size of the plant to let the plant focus on new blooms.
  • Use the cut-off flower in composting.
  • While cutting, do not cut the flowers only. Rather deadhead stalk also to remove the seed pod.

Look at the video for detailed help!

You can also do the deadheading by using your fingertips with certain precautions.

  • First, find the fading flowers as they become difficult to find due to excess growth. 
  • Pinch the flower with its stalk attached using your index finger and thumb instead of pulling. But do not use gloves as they can hurt the plant.
  • You can use the plucked flower in the composting can or use it for seed production for the next growing season.
  • Move on to the next flower in the same stem, as a single stem may have many blooms.
Group of colorful petunias in a hanging basket
Petunias look leggy when they have attained their maximum growth.
  • If the trails get too long during the growing season, mainly during mid-summer, you need to cut off the fresh stems to promote the growth of old blossoms and foliage.

Care for Petunias after Deadheading 

After trying deadheading, you will notice that your Petunias look cleaner and neater with beautiful blossoms. Even they may last during frost season if you do it the right way.

Let’s jump to some extra tips that can add to your valuable effort.

  • Allow a healing period after deadheading for your petunias for at least a week, So that they can revive with more compact foliage and keep blooming.
  • You can serve your plant with at least 5 to 6 hours of direct sunlight.
Petunias need full sun to bloom.
  • Petunias grow best under the temperature of 61-80°F range during daytime and 55-65°F during nighttime.
  • You need to offer Petunias water once a week when 5-6 inches of the top soil begins to dry.
  • It is good to maintain 50% or above humidity for Petunias. 
  • Prepare a well-draining, porous soil with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0 for your Petunias. 
  • Provide balanced 10-10-10 N-P-K fertilizer in between your trimming period with a gap of two weeks.

In lack of proper deadheading, Petunias can entirely cease their growth even during the growing season enabling only the development of green parts instead of colorful ones. 

  • You can repot Petunias in spring after all threat of frost has passed and temps warm up.
  • Sterilize your tools by rubbing alcohol or applying bleach on the blades to make them bacteria-free.
  • Also, you need to protect your Petunias from pests like mites, caterpillars, moths, and budworms. They can damage the flowers to a higher extent.


Petunias receive love for their vibrant flowers, filling the room with fragrance and fresh air.

But they demand time-to-time attention to keep their blooms forever eye-catching, which is possible with deadheading.

Try it yourself and see the magic that deadheading brings to your Petunias.

Curious about what can make an Annual plant leggy? Keep reading!

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