VIDEO: How to Take Care of Petunias, So You Aren’t Trimming Off the Wrong Parts

by | Updated: Jul 28, 2021

How to tell the difference between new buds and dying blooms on petunias, so you know what to deadhead

You know it’s important to “clean” your petunias, so they look pretty and tidy.

But how do you know you’re trimming off the right parts?

What’s a new bud versus a dying flower?

In this video on petunia care, you’ll see:

  • EXACTLY what to look for on your petunia plants
  • The key differences between dying flowers and new buds
  • What a seed pod looks like (and why you want to remove it)
  • Helpful photos, so you know exactly what to trim on your own plants

And if you have flowers that look like mini-petunias — which you may know as Million Bells, Super Bells or Calibrachoa — this video can help you too.

Click above to watch.

Prefer to read?

Simply scroll down for the transcript.

How to Care for Petunias, So You Aren’t Trimming Off the Wrong Parts

How do you tell the difference between a new bud and a dying flower on your petunias?

It’s not always easy to tell.

That’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s tip.


Hi, I’m Ann with Go West Gardener.

Inspiring new western gardeners to find their green thumbs with flowers.

It’s awesome that you want to clean your petunias, so they can grow new flowers for you.

But, at the same time, you want to make sure you aren’t cutting off new blooms by mistake!

First, if you are ever unsure whether you’re looking at a bud or a dead flower, I say, give it a couple of days.

Because within a few days, it should become more clear.

If the bloom is dying, the petals will look more dry and even more shriveled up.

And if they’re new buds, they’ll look even bigger, and they should have more color to them.

You’re going to see some changes.

But let’s say you want to know now.

Here are some ways to tell.

It helps to think about a petunia bloom as a torch and a flame.

The little stem is the torch and the petal is the flame.

One of the easiest ways to tell if the flower is ready to be trimmed is you will have a shriveled up flame sitting on a torch.

The petals, which we’re calling the flame, will be curved over.

They’ll often change color, getting really dark or brown or gray.

And they’ll almost feel like shriveled up paper.

Another thing you may see is just the torch.

The petals have fallen off on their own.

The torch doesn’t have any additional leaves on it.

It’s often pretty long, and it connects at the stem.

Even if the flame is gone, it helps to trim off this torch because if you don’t, the torch may begin forming a little green kernel in the middle.

This is a seed pod, and it means your flower is turning its attention away from making flowers.

And we want flowers!

Let’s look at another example.

Can you see the torches on this petunia that are ready to be trimmed?

There’s this one here.

It’s the most obvious because it has a shriveled up flame.

But you’ll also see a torch here.



And here.

These are all ready to be trimmed off the plant.

If you haven’t been trimming off the torches, the first time you clean up your petunias, you may find yourself cutting off a lot of them at one time.

It helps to trim them off as you see them.

This will help keep your petunias’ energy focused on making new flower buds, rather than going to seed.

But let’s go back to our example for a second.

There are also new buds on this stem.


And here.

What are some clues that they’re new?

You’ll often see leaves on them.

The torch is just opening up.

And often times, the torch stem is still really short in length.

Okay, so let’s talk for a second about the in-between phase when the petunia flame is either getting ready to bloom or it’s dying.

To tell if it’s a new petunia flower, there’s a lot of structure to it.

You’ll see the bud is pretty firm.

I like to think of it as being architectural.

It kind of looks like a drill bit.

You’ll see a clear structure to it at the top of the bud.

And the flower opens in a distinctive pattern.

In contrast, though, a fading bud – that’s one that’s dying – doesn’t have as much shape to it.

It’s soft, kind of a blob, and it’s starting to shrivel.

Can you see the difference?

If you liked this tip, you’re going to love my free mini-training:

The Top 5 Mistakes in Flowerpot Gardening (and How to EASILY Avoid Them) >>

And if you’d like more ways to feel more confident with gardening in the West, please click to subscribe to this channel [on YouTube].

See you next time.


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Ann from Go West Gardener with her flowerpots and garden

Hey there, I'm Ann

I’m a Certified Colorado Gardener, dog mama and Midwesterner-turned-Colorado girl. I help budding gardeners in the intermountain west get more confident with flower gardening, so you can create an outdoor space you love. More about Ann >>

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