My Petunias Are Getting Leggy: Learn How To Stop Leggy Petunias

Pink Petunia Flower
leggy petunia
(Image credit: sinseeho)

Petunias in full bloom are simply glorious! These showstoppers seem to come in every hue, tint, and shade imaginable. Search for “petunia” in the images section of your web browser and you’ll be treated to a cornucopia of color. But be careful. Viewing petunia photos might inspire you to run out to your local nursery and buy every petunia plant in sight. One of the fabulous features of petunias is that they blossom all season long. Whether you place them in a hanging basket or position them as a focal point in your annual flower beds, these prolific bloomers just keep producing. There is a caveat, however. Many gardeners find themselves back at the nursery complaining that “my petunias are getting leggy.” All the flowers end up at the end of the lanky bare stems. The look just isn’t very attractive. How disappointing. Don’t fret. You can learn how to stop leggy petunias.

How Do I Make My Petunias Fuller?

Preventing leggy petunias requires diligence and care. First, make sure you keep your petunias moist. If you have petunias in a smaller pot or basket, you may need to water them every day. Get into the habit of checking their moisture level each morning and give them a good drink of water. If your petunias are in the ground, then you may need to water them every three to five days. We all know that petunias bloom most prolifically if we deadhead the spent flowers regularly. But removing the petals isn’t enough. You also need to remove the seed if you want to learn how to stop leggy petunias. The seed pod looks like a little green (or tan if it is mature) chocolate chip nestled at the base of what looks like five skinny green leaves in a star-shaped pattern. Snip or pick off the flower below this section. Have you ever asked yourself, “How do I make my petunias fuller?” Preventing leggy petunias requires that you cut back the branches by one quarter or one half on a regular basis. This may be hard to do, as your petunia plant may be in full bloom when you do this. You can cut back all the branches at once. You will have a full, compact blooming petunia plant in a couple of weeks. You can also cut back (by 1/4 or 1/2) just some of the branches scattered evenly throughout the plant. Those branches will regenerate and rebloom, and then you can cut back the remaining branches two weeks later. Keep up this cycle throughout the season and you will be rewarded with a full look and an abundance of splendid petunia flowers.

Karen Boness

Karen Boness is the founder of Wild Willow Design, an Australia-based company that specializes in ecological landscape design.