homepage logo

Garden Help Desk: What’s the best way to deadhead my petunias?

By USU Extension - | Jul 8, 2023

Courtesy photo

Petunias are popular annuals in local gardens because of their easy care and wide variety of color choices. They look great on their own or in mixed beds in a variety of colors and forms.

Should I deadhead my petunias by pulling off the petals or by pinching it off below the petals?

Petunias are a popular annual because they come in a wide variety of shades and will keep their colorful good looks throughout the season with good care, deadheading and occasional pruning.

There are two reasons to deadhead your flowers- to improve the look of the plant or to encourage new blooms by preventing seed production. For most annual and perennial flowering plants, deadheading will accomplish both purposes.

If you simply pull off the corolla (the fused petals), your plant will look nicer, but you’ll be leaving behind the part of the flower where a capsule of seeds will develop. That seed production will reduce the number of new flowers your plant gives you.

You can improve the appearance of your plant and keep flower production going by removing the entire flower, both colorful petals and green sepals. There is a “stem,” called a pedicel, at the base of each petunia blossom. Pinch or snip through the pedicel when you are deadheading.

Courtesy photo

Simply pulling of the faded petals from a flower may not be enough to encourage future blooms on a flowering plant. the entire flower structure needs to be removed.

A little pruning during the summer will also keep your petunias looking their best. Petunias flower at the ends of their stems. Trailing varieties in hanging baskets can end up with a long “skirt” of green with flowers at the bottom. You can cut back all the trailing stems in the entire container halfway or more to refresh the hanging basket after a few weeks of new growth or you can cut back just a few trailing stems halfway back or more each week so that you always have some flowering stems while other stems regrow.

Deadheading is important for keeping many other annual and perennial flowering plants looking good. For plants that hold their blooms up high on stems, remove the entire stem when deadheading.

I sprayed my Apple tree with dormant oil before the flowers and then I sprayed high-yield at the beginning of June. I looked at the label but can’t find any directions for doing the next spray. When can I spray again?

I’m going to assume you want to spray for Codling moth control to prevent “worms” in your apples. Unlike some other pests that can damage out plants, protecting apples from codling moth damage requires repeated insecticide applications because egg-laying will continue for longer than most insecticide applications will be effective. Unfortunately, the label of the product you chose says it shouldn’t be applied to apple trees after the petals have dropped from the blossoms. That’s why you couldn’t find directions for when you should spray your tree again. You’ll need to choose a different product to use in the future. You should not use this particular product on your apple tree again this season.

There are several conventional and organic options for preventing codling moth larvae in your apples. The number and the frequency of your applications will depend on which product(s) you use. All the information you need for making your spray efforts effective — applying the right product at the right time — will be on the label. Always read the label before you purchase a pesticide and read the label again each time you’re going to apply the product. That’s the best way to avoid pesticide mistakes.

Courtesy photo

Deadheading a petunia means pinching off the entire flower structure, not just the colored petals.

Many insecticides have a limit on the number of times they can be applied in one season. You may need to choose more than one product and alternate between products from spray to spray or use on the maximum allowed sprays for one product and then switch to another to finish out the season.

Removing spent blooms, also called deadheading, will keep flowers looking their best throughout the growing season.

Petunias need to be 'pruned' or deadheaded, especially when grown in containers, otherwise they can develop long branches with colorful flowers only at the ends of the branches.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)