This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area



May 11, 2016

How to get the most blooms from petunias


This year at the Tropical Paradise, everyone who visits is marveling at the petunias. Yes, those ordinary, every-day, run-of-the-mill annual flowers that we've all seen every year since we were kids, no matter where you live.

Petunias are everywhere. They're planted in yards, around public buildings, around malls. And they usually look pretty ratty. And maybe it's because they are so common, and cheap. They get punched into flower beds in quantity and then left to fend for themselves. At a distance, they look fine, but up close most petunias look pretty bad.

My garden is small, and I wanted the flowers to be right next to where people walk, so I decided to give the full treatment to the petunias. This includes:

• Planting the petunias with care. Yeah, I know petunias are cheap, but it doesn't matter to me, everything that lives in my garden is precious, and I give it the same care. Each tiny plant got some Osmocote slow-release dry fertilizer, a sprinkling of polymer moisture crystals, and fresh potting soil.

• Planting the petunias to allow access. As you can see, they're right along the path in my backyard. I learned this trick with iris - don't plant them where you can't easily get to them. In addition to their getting the automatic water, they're also right there so I could give them additional water doused with Miracle-Gro. And the most important reason is...

• Removing spent blooms. Since they're right there, I pinch off the spent blooms right away. I can do it in the morning while I'm having my coffee, I can do it in the afternoon, in the evening. Spent blooms come off easily in your fingertips, and I just throw them underneath the plant, where they become more mulch. If the plant starts to get rangy, or leggy, or viney, I trim it, but not much. Mostly edges that are starting to wander off are where you want to trim.

Yeah, I know petunias aren't exactly blue-ribbon rose plants. But they deserve care, and if you give it to them, they'll give you their best.

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