Deadhead Petunias in 4 Simple Steps

Deadheading petunias is an important task that encourages longer blooming periods and overall plant health. It’s a simple process and can be done in 4 easy steps.

Arrow pointing to a dying petunia flower that needs deadheading.

Tools and Preparation for Deadheading Petunias

Before we get into the actual process of removing dead petunias flowers, let’s first talk about tools and preparation.

You can use your fingers to deadhead petunias, but because of their glandular trichomes, petunia flowers will leave your hands feeling sticky. The sticky substance is normal for petunias and is present as a form of protection for the flowers. It won’t harm you, but you can avoid the mess if you want. I sometimes use my fingers to deadhead my petunias.

I also like to use these micro-tip pruning shears to deadhead my petunias.

Micro-tip shears used to deadhead petunias.
These micro-tip shears are perfect for deadheading petunias.

The sheers allow me to target specific areas of my plant without causing unnecessary damage.

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If you are using shears, always clean them before use to avoid spreading unknown diseases.

4 Steps to Deadhead Petunias

Now that we have the preparation out of the way, let’s get into how to actually deadhead your petunias.

1. Identify Spent Petunias Flowers

Dead petunias flowers are pretty easy to spot. The color will start to fade and the vibrant reds, purples, and pinks will look dull. The structure of the flower will also start to curl inwards and wilt. If left too long, flowers will turn brown and crunchy.

Arrows pointing to spent petunia flowers that need to deadheading.
The arrows are a few examples of flowers that need deadheading.

Even newly planted petunias will need deadheading. Keep up on it and new petunias will blossom beautifully.

Newly planted Splash Dance™ Bolero Blue petunias that need deadheading.
I recently planted this Splash Dance™ Bolero Blue petunia and it already needs deadheading.

2. Cut Below the Sepal and Flower

One of the biggest mistakes people make when deadheading petunias is not removing both the flower and sepal. Use either your fingers or gardening shears to pinch off or cut where the sepal meets the stem.

A petunia sepal after deadheading the petunia flower.
This is the sepal. You want to deadhead your petunias at this point.

Removing both portions will signal to your petunia plant to spend its energy elsewhere. This causes it to grow new blooms.

Two images of a man deadheading petunias. The left image is showing the wrong way by just deadheading the flower. The right image is showing deadheading both the petunia flower and sepal.
The image on the left is the incorrect place to deadhead your petunias. The image on the right shows the correct place.

Micro-tip shears make the job much easier while providing a clean cut.

A man using micro-tip pruning shears to deadhead Amore™ Queen of Hearts petunias.
Using micro-tip pruning shears to deadhead spent flowers on my Amore™ Queen of Hearts petunias.

3. Dispose of the Dead Flower

Once you’ve deadheaded all the necessary areas of your petunia plant, dispose of the dead flowers.

A man's hand holding a Amore™ Queen of Hearts petunia that was recently deadheaded.
A spent Amore™ Queen of Hearts petunia that I cut off and will dispose of.

As long as your petunia is healthy and free of disease, you can add the spent flowers to your compost pile. If you don’t have a compost pile, check if your local recycling center has drop-off sites for yard waste. For example, my local recycling center takes yard waste and turns it into compost for the community to use.

If the petunia flowers you deadhead are from a diseased plant, place the spent flowers in a Ziploc bag and dispose of them in the trash. Do not add these flowers to a compost pile or they will spread the disease.

4. Post-Deadheading Care

There isn’t much to do after deadheading your petunias but wait for new, beautiful blooms to come in.

Beautiful blooms on an Amore™ King of Hearts Petunia flower.
These beautiful blooms came in on my Amore™ King of Hearts petunia shortly after deadheading spent flowers.

If your petunia does not continue to bloom, check its overall health conditions. It may need water, sun, or fertilizer.

Can You Dead Petunias Too Often?

Regular deadheading is what keeps your petunias blooming, so it’s not likely you’ll deadhead them too much. If you’re new to growing petunias, you might actually find yourself deadheading more often than you initially thought.

How to Deadhead Petunias

Deadheading petunias is a necessary, yet simple process. To deadhead your petunias:

  • Figure out which flowers need to be deadhead.
  • Remove both the petunia flower and sepal.
  • Safely dispose of the spent petunia flower.
  • Monitor your petunia plant for new blooms.

Following these four simple steps will ensure your petunias bloom for as long as possible.

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