Reviving potted petunias keeps them looking lush and full. It can be as easy as a simple prune, yet…
Reviving potted petunias is super simple and you get a bonus from them if you choose! But sometimes it takes more than just a prune.
Learn how to revive your petunias and make more beautiful blooms all summer long! About mid-summer petunias can start to look very spindly and sad.
Give your petunias a good prune, a bit of feed, and plenty of water. Refreshing your spent, leggy petunias brings them back to their full glory for months.
Petunia maintenance 101.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking a link I may make a small commission at no cost to you.
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 a while 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 heatwave and it was dang hot! (which I love)
Reviving Potted Petunias
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.
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 when peat moss is used in container mixes. It compresses and becomes a brick.
The soil has become what is called hydrophobic. This means it resists absorbing water thus the plants don’t get what they need.
Thankfully this is simple to fix.
To avoid this situation when I pot up my own hanging baskets I don’t use peat moss, 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.
The Fix for Bedraggled Petunias
Give the plants a good soak. You do that by setting the pot in another container of water and let it absorb from the bottom.
Next, take a Garden knife and shove the blade down into the moistened brick of soil in the pot. I wiggle it to make holes throughout the solid chunk of soil.
Don’t be precious about it, just stab it down into the soil and create divots or holes.
I add some fresh quality potting soil and then water it in so it filters down into the spaces you created with the knife.
I cut back this petunia plant 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 one 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.
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.
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 anyway so the petunia baskets just showing a bit of green was not a huge loss for the time being.
All the best tips
Best Petunia Fertilizer
Your clear-cut guide on how to fertilize petunias. What is the best petunia fertilizer? You might be surprised!
What do you think happened? Did they kick up their toes and call it quits?
Well, you be the judge.
This transformation from pathetic stubby stems to gorgeous blooms took about 3 weeks and they continued to grow and bloom the rest of the summer.
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).
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.
In this video, I show you step by step.
Many of the Supertunias from Proven Winners don’t usually need this kind of pruning as often but it keeps them looking the very best too.
I wish you all bounteous blooms in your gardens.