17 July 2013

My Petunia Experiment

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I have had petunias in the past and always remarked about how short-lived they seemed to be. I admit I didn't look into it at all, I just pulled off the spent blooms and called it a day. Obviously it didn't matter too much to me. I bought a petunia this year and here it is when I bought it.

I planned on caring for it same as always. However, I ran across an article that caught my eye about keeping your petunias full of flowers all summer. Ok, I can't pass that up, so I read it and discovered I was doing it all wrong. I was just removing the bloom itself, which cleaned up the plant, but I was leaving a very crucial part on the plant that should have been removed. The picture below shows you what you should remove.

When you remove the blooms you have to make sure you get the part it is attached to. That is the part that will create seed.

So, my petunia has all these little things still on it where I've pulled off the blooms. It was starting to go downhill. But, the article also stated that you can cut your petunia way back somewhere along the middle of July and it will come back with lots of blooms in a short time.

This is my experiment. My petunia still had some nice blooms on it, but mostly it was getting leggy. I cut it back, trying to get all the future seed capsules off. Here's what it looks like now, hope I didn't kill it.

I then watered and fertilized it and said a prayer over it. Looking through the cuttings I found a bunch of the seed capsules and am now wondering if I waited too long or if not removing them up until now is going to prevent a re-bloom. We shall see.

Anyway, I decided that I would save all this seed and have experiment #2 next year. Here is what the seed capsule, or whatever you call it, looks like. You just open that little thing in the middle and there's your seed.

I held mine over a white paper towel and then put them in a little bowl. I would suggest pulling off the leaves first 'cuz petunias are kinda sticky and the little seeds will stick to them.

The way annuals work, or at least the petunia, is that it will grow and produce for a while and then start setting seed and then it will die. But, by removing the future seed capsule you are tricking the plant into thinking it still needs to produce blooms, therefore extending the flowering season. I'm afraid that my plant may be on its way out, I didn't trick it soon enough. Take a look at all the seed I got from it. I think this is a wave petunia, which is a patented hybrid I think. I don't know what the seed will produce next year, that's experiment #2. I won't be sharing the seed 'cuz it's patented.

Now I just sit and wait. If it comes back I will be thrilled. If it doesn't, I will have at least learned something and will never lose another petunia too early again. So, stay tuned for the results of my petunia experiment. And, as always I welcome your comments and suggestions, 'cuz I'm still learning.

Update: It's been 1 week since I cut back the petunia. Here's a shot of it. It's got 1 open bloom, as you can see, and another just about to open. It also seems more full.

And after 2 weeks. As you can see there are numerous blooms, however I noticed that several of the blooms are wonky. They're bent backwards and upside down etc., weird.

And at about 2 1/2 weeks. I think it's safe to say that I didn't kill my petunia. I'm calling the experiment a success. It is definitely what I'm going to do with all my petunias from here on out. Next season I will do experiment #2 and plant the seeds I got off this plant just to see what grows.

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