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Reviving Leggy Potted Petunias

How to revive leggy potted petunias that are looking done in.  Struggling to survive and not blooming in mid Summer. They needed help and this is what I did to get fresh new blooms on a failing plant.

Reviving potted petunias for more beautiful blooms all summer long! Refreshing your sad looking, leggy petunias is easy and gives them new life for months.  Petunia maintenance 101. 

Reviving your potted petunias and other annuals that may look like they are ready to give up the ghost. Refurbishing potted annuals is not hard but the rewards are more luscious blooms for the rest of the summer through Fall.

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I bought these large hanging potted petunias at a wholesale nursery in May.  They were big and luscious, full of purple and white petunias.  Diligently I watered and fed with an organic liquid plant food over the next weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeousness they added to my side porch.

But after awhile I noticed they seemed to be suffering, looking wilted and pathetic.  I watered some more, thinking that maybe I just wasn’t keeping up with their needs.  After all we were having an early heat wave and it was dang hot!  (which I love)

Reviving Potted Petunias

Reviving your potted petunias and other annuals that may look like they are ready to give up the ghost. Refurbishing potted annuals is not hard but the rewards are more luscious blooms for the rest of the summer through Fall.

No matter how much I watered they did not bounce back.  I checked for spider mites (nasty little critters) and other infestations but they were clean.  Just ugly.

The Problem

I felt the soil and noticed it was like a brick. The petunias were not only root bound but the soil used for the hanging basket had turned into a rock.  This can happen very easily and is just as easy to fix.

To avoid this situation when I pot up my own hanging baskets I make sure there is plenty of substance added to my potting soil to keep it loose and free draining.  Additives like perlite (the little white pebble looking things in good potting soil) works wonders. For my complete DIY Potting soil recipe, visit this post

The Fix for Bedraggled Petunias

Give the plants a good soak.  Take a Garden knife shove the blade down into the moistened brick of soil in the pot.  I wiggle it to make holes throughout now solid chunk of soil.

Reviving your potted petunias and other annuals that may look like they are ready to give up the ghost. Refurbishing potted annuals is not hard but the rewards are more luscious blooms for the rest of the summer through Fall.

I add some fresh good quality potting soil then water it in so it filters down into the spaces I created with the knife.

Reviving your potted petunias and other annuals that may look like they are ready to give up the ghost. Refurbishing potted annuals is not hard but the rewards are more luscious blooms for the rest of the summer through Fall.

Get Tough

I cut back this petunia plants severely.  All the way to the rim of the pot.

If you are just doing a refurbishing prune up (many annual potted plants may need about mid-summer) and they don’t look as sorry as these specimens, you can cut back to about the bottom of the pot and it is enough. You can use those cuttings to start more Petunias if you like, I show you how here.

But reviving potted petunias that have gotten this sorry need a more drastic haircut.  So I whacked them off to the rim of the pot.  I figured it was do or die.  As awful as they were looking it could only go up from here.

Reviving your potted petunias and other annuals that may look like they are ready to give up the ghost. Refurbishing potted annuals is not hard but the rewards are more luscious blooms for the rest of the summer through Fall.

Patiently Wait

I hung them back up and kept up with watering and feeding.  My roses climbing the porch posts were in full bloom and stealing the show anyways so the petunia baskets just showing a bit of green was not a huge loss for the time being.

What do you think happened?  Did they kick up their toes and call it quits?

Well you be the judge.

Reviving your potted petunias and other annuals that may look like they are ready to give up the ghost. Refurbishing potted annuals is not hard but the rewards are more luscious blooms for the rest of the summer through Fall.

This transformation from pathetic stubby stems to gorgeous blooms took about 3 weeks and they are still going strong.

So the moral of the story…. don’t be afraid to prune up if you need to revive or refresh your potted petunias (or other annuals).

Reviving your potted petunias and other annuals that may look like they are ready to give up the ghost. Refurbishing potted annuals is not hard but the rewards are more luscious blooms for the rest of the summer through Fall.

No need to do such a drastic complete prune back if you keep up with it from day one. Deadhead regularly and cut back at least a third of the stems every other week, even if they have buds on them.

This will keep the petunias from only blooming at the ends and you keep it lush and full of blooms from the top.

Many of the Supertunias from Proven Winners don’t usually need this kind of pruning as often but it keeps them looking their very best too.

I wish you all bounteous blooms in your gardens.

Leggy petunias getting pruned to revive them

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Judi Butterfield

Monday 27th of August 2018

It was so hard to cut the flowers off BUT I did brave it. Little over 2 1/2 weeks with lots of watering and plant food they are thriving once again. The funny thing is they came back all one color whereas before they were multi colored.

Pamela

Tuesday 28th of August 2018

How very interesting.

Debbie

Monday 17th of July 2017

I cut back my petunias too. They say not to cut back after the end of July. They always come back beautifully!

Pamela

Tuesday 18th of July 2017

I supposed they say not after July as many don't have enough of a season for them to begin again, but I rarely follow rules. :) I am thinking of putting these petunias in the ground and getting some Fall friendly flowers going in the pots instead. So many other things are blooming around my garden we won't really miss the hanging pots for now and when everything is looking rather sad in the garden the pots will be filled out.

Sandra Gumm

Sunday 16th of July 2017

Today's post came as the most opportune time!y. Yesterday I spend some time cleaning-up my potted petunias. They were looking pathetic despite all the love I have given them! There were browned seed pods on many of the stems. I was considering trying to separate the plants, but was afraid to traumatized them too much, even though they are surely headed for the compost pile if they don't soon perk up! I will certainly give your techniques a try! Your petunias look fabulous!

Parker

Wednesday 12th of July 2017

Hi Pamela thanks for the Petunia revival article will do it! How do I revive my Fusias? one hanging basket is nearly over ( I am in YVR) and scraggly staolks are making me feel oh hell and I paid so much! I do water and fertilize them all my baskets and very diligent about that part if you can help me/advise about the Fusia plants will be grateful thanks

Pamela

Wednesday 12th of July 2017

I am shooting in the dark but here are some suggestions. Make sure you are not over watering, that can cause them to wilt and look scraggily so just be sure the pots are draining well. You can shear them back like I did the petunias and you should get a lusher growth as it could put out even more stalks. Check to be sure you don't need to refresh the soil. It can get to where it won't hold anymore nutrients and the water passes through to quickly. I hope this helps. :)

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