By the end of July, our petunias are often looking leggy and unkempt. It's time to cut them back. Pinching plants isn't a hard job. It should be done in the morning or in the evening. It's easier on the plants (and you) to avoid the heat of the day. A sharp pair of office scissors works great.

Petunia stems can be cut back by up to 1/2 their length. Try to avoid cutting through the leaves since a leaf cut will burn in the sunlight. As
you are working, also look for seed pods and cut these off too, even if they have already opened and released the seeds. (Petunia seeds look like small poppy seeds.) If there are brown or yellow leaves at the base of the stem, pull or rub them off as well. See photo below.

The hardest part about pinching plants is that you will be cutting off the existing blooms. Encourage your plant to bloom again by fertilizing. Choose a fertilizer with a high available phosphate percentage (i.e., a high middle number) such as 9-59-8. I recommend Fertilome Blooming and Rooting Soluble Plant Food. You can add this to the fertilizer canister on your irrigation system or use a watering can.

Many other plants will do well with a trimming including verbena, phlox, coleus and dusty miller. Dead heading (removing the spent blooms) is all that is necessary for geraniums, nicotania, calendula and impatiens. If you are growing herbs, most herbs should not be allowed to bloom at all.

After pruning, you will be rewarded with a beautiful, more compact and full planter in about a week. Happy gardening!

Stephanie Selig
tel: (970) 988-3808