20180804A www.plantwisdomgardencenter.com
This older petunia cultivar is down to its last blooms, but you can stimulate a full recovery and renewed bloom by cutting it back harshly! Source: www.plantwisdomgardencenter.com

Gardeners usually expect annuals to bloom all summer … and that wish generally does come true. However, some species, such as sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), edging lobelia (Lobelia erinus) and petunias (Petunia x atkinsiana), especially older varieties, begin to falter in August, becoming leggy, only blooming weakly or even completely stopping blooming entirely. This situation is exacerbated when the summer is especially hot.

The usual trick for stimulating new bloom on any plant—pinching out faded flowers—becomes almost impossible: there are so many faded blooms that individual deadheading is nigh to impossible. So, what can you do … other than just watching the plant go downhill?

Well, if you catch them on time, as soon as they start to bloom less (this won’t work if they’re reached the point where they’re nearly dead!), simply cut the whole plant back by half. Then after that, keep up regular summer care.

Such a radical pruning stimulates the plant to completely regenerate and it will soon be in full bloom and as attractive as ever!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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