Propagate Petunia Cuttings: How To Root Petunia Plants
By: Anne Baley
Most flower gardeners are familiar with growing petunias from seed. They’re sturdy, reliable flowers for borders, planters and hanging gardens. But what about taking petunia cuttings? Learn how to start petunias from cuttings to create dozens of new plants that are clones of the original and that will guarantee blooms earlier than any of your neighbors.
Why Propagate Petunia Cuttings?
If you want to propagate petunia to grow the same type next year, there are a couple of problems with simply saving the seeds and planting them next year.
First, if you live in the northern half of the country, it may be the middle of summer before you see any blooms on your petunia plants.
Second, if the petunias you grow and care for are hybrid varieties, the seeds you collect won’t breed true the next year.
The way to grow more plants for next year’s garden is by rooting petunia cuttings.
How to Root Petunia Plants
How to root petunia plants? The best way is to begin with the absolute best example of the plant you have in your garden. You’ll be making exact clones of these plants, so choose the ones with compact growth and bright, big flowers in colors you love. Take cuttings from the plant in the fall before frost arrives.
Rooting petunia flowers is very simple as long as you prepare correctly. Make a mix of equal parts peat moss, sand, and plant food. Fill a flat with the mixture and mist it to moisten it all the way through.
Clip leaves from the tops of the petunia plants, making sure you collect soft, flexible examples instead of older, woody types. Wrap the leaves in a damp paper towel until you can bring them inside to plant.
Dip the end of each leaf into rooting hormone powder. Make a hole in the soil mix with a pencil and place the powdered stem in the hole. Push the soil around the stem to hold it in place. Plant all the leaves in the same manner, keeping about 2 inches (5 cm.) between each one.
Place the tray in a cool, dark place for about three weeks. After this time, gently pull on one leaf to see if roots have begun to grow on the stem underground.
Once all the leaves have stems, transplant them into individual small pots. Transfer the pots to shelves with grow lights and grow them throughout the winter. You’ll have bloom-ready petunias as soon as the frost leaves, first thing next spring.
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The trumpet-shaped flowers of petunias will surely enhance the look of your garden. If you have favorite petunia plants, learn how to grow petunias from cuttings from them to get more copies of your best plants. The process includes preparing the mixture, cutting, planting, and maintenance, all relatively easy to follow.
Create the best medium using perlite and moss and use a sanitized cutting tool to gather 3-inch cuttings. Dip them in the rooting hormone and ensure that the medium is moist. Maintain the ideal growing conditions using a greenhouse before hardening them and transplanting them outdoors.
One can ensure that the seedlings will root and grow strong for transplanting when you use a greenhouse to start them. The greenhouse will not limit you even if your area’s conditions like temperature and weather are not supportive of petunia growth. You can also let your plants establish themselves, so your petunias can survive outdoors without wilting.
Tons of Free Plants from cuttings
Tons of Free Plants from Cuttings
It is that time of year!
Time to plan for a glorious garden filled with color.
A fast, easy and budget friendly way to get loads of plants is to take cuttings and root them.
You get larger plants faster than you would from seed plus you get a true clone of the parent plant whereas with seeds you never know what you will get.
A few good choices for fast and easy propagation are: Zonal Geraniums
These are not all the plants you can do this with, just a small sampling.
These were grown from seed and I only propagate for myself and not for sale.
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First you start with a nice healthy plant. I overwintered some of mine in my studio and upper bedroom window.
Take a cutting from a fresh green branch just below a leaf node. Cut with something clean and very sharp, like a razor or xacto knife.
See…..fresh green branch.
Old crusty branch…this is not what you want..
Make sure you have some potting mix ready to load up your freshly washed and sterilized little pots with.
My mix is half potting soil (Ace brand) and perlite.
These are 3 inch pots, you can use smaller or even the Jiffy pellets work well.
These pots have all been washed in hot soapy water with a touch of bleach, then rinsed well and air dried.
The cutting should be about 4 or 5 inches long and leave two healthy leaves on them.
When you put the stem into the dirt make sure two leaf nodes are covered by the soil mix.
With geraniums I do not use a cloning or rooting medium but other plants do root better for me when I do, here is the rooting medium.
Water well and press the soil firmly around the cutting.
I love my propagation trays with lids. They work wonderfully for me and are less of a pain that the plastic bag method.
Find some here on Amazon or Park Seed has a lovely one that is very durable and worth the cost if you are going to propagate often.
Put a clear lid on your tray to maintain moisture and keep at a moderate temperature and in bright light.
I have mine in the greenhouse but you can put them under lights in the house as well.
You can use clear plastic sheeting you get in a roll at the home store, just tent it up so it up with something so the plastic does not touch the cuttings directly. It does not need to fit snug, you do want some air circulation.
Here is my petunia cuttings done the same way under their clear dome roof under grow lights in my dining room.
And Voila’….a few weeks later you have roots!
I love when that happens. Sweet success. You can now pot them up into a larger pot to fill out more or put them in whatever container you want to see bright happy flowers. I would wait to plant them in the garden until they were a bit larger but if you wish you can put them right in your borders and beds now. Just protect from slugs and snails, I use a bait.
Never be afraid to try rooting things out of season. Like this clematis…see the green sprout in the corner?
That is a cutting that is starting to grow. I did a post on pruning a clematis last Fall…Prune Clematis for Top to Bottom Bloom, and even though it was the wrong time of year to root cuttings I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try since I had a ton on hand from the pruning.
I cut the clematis trimmings into small lengths, dipped them in rooting hormone, poked them in compost in a small pot, and let them just sit in the greenhouse over winter. Though I only show one in the photo, nearly all of the cuttings I planted are showing growth. I didn’t even have a cover on them to retain moisture.
The moral of the story, even though it may not be the “best” time of year to do something for the garden it won’t hurt to give it a try, you may be surprise.
Easiest Ways On How To Propagate Petunias
Propagating petunias is a worthy endeavor for the gardener, whether it’s for personal pleasure or as a source of income. After all, petunias can improve the look of borders and are even useful groundcovers for various landscapes. You can grow them as annuals, but you can also treat them as perennials if you’re in growing zones 9 to 11.
Growing petunias from seeds
Perhaps rooting any plant from seeds is the easiest way, especially for newbie gardeners. The same concept applies to petunias, and you can guarantee success, especially when you grow them indoors. This is because the greenhouse will protect the seeds from fluctuating temperatures and potentially harsh weather that can prevent them from germinating and growing successfully.
To start, you must remember that petunias love sunlight . They thrive well from the heat during summer, which is why early sowing of seeds, especially in the garden, puts you at risk of rotting or sullen plants. Instead, start your seeds indoors at ten weeks before you intend to plant the seedlings.
Depending on your location, you can adjust the timing of sowing petunia seeds. Those in the north do this in the first week of March, but you can do it earlier when you’re in the south. Using a greenhouse should protect the seeds and very young plants to ensure that they’ll be healthy and ready for transplanting.
How to sow petunia seeds
You can use planting trays or eggshells for the petunia seeds. Fill them with a seed-starting mix of your choice and sprinkle the seeds on top. Moisten the plants afterward before covering the tray with a plastic wrap to ensure that the soil stays moist.
You want to place this tray in a bright area and not receive direct sunlight to prevent the seeds’ damage. To give you a better understanding, the location should be around 75°F to encourage germination. And then, once you see the seeds sprout, remove the cover and place the tray 6 inches under lights in an area of 65°F.
For maintenance, fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer once every two weeks and check the soil when it gets dry to know when to water. The seedlings will be ready for transplanting after developing two or three true leaves.
Growing petunias from cuttings
There are reasons why gardeners prefer to propagate petunias from cuttings instead of seeds. For example, you have to wait for a year before using the seeds you collected if you’re using hybrid petunia varieties. If you are in the northern US, petunias might also take until the middle of the summer before they bloom and allow the seeds’ collection.
Petunia seeds also tend to be challenging to use because they are small. Instead, you can use an existing plant to get cuttings for rooting. This method is reasonably straightforward, wherein you’ll collect from the tip of a petunia stem in the morning.
The cutting should have no flowers or buds, and don’t forget to remove the lower leaves. Dip it in rooting hormone powder and place the cutting in a mixture of your choice. Remember to moisten the medium before putting the cutting and holding it in place by pushing the soil around it.
The cuttings will thrive under a light shade so that you can cover the container with a plastic bag. Ensure that moisture will still evaporate under this setting, and the bag shouldn’t touch the cutting. Maintain moisture by removing the bag each morning and misting every other day.
How to Save Petunia Seeds
You should allow petunias to grow until they are finished producing. They aren’t the type of plant you would cut for indoor flower arrangements.
However, you can harvest their seeds to grow them for free year after year. Here is what you need to do to harvest petunia seeds:
1. Stop Deadheading
When you’re ready to begin saving seeds for the next season, you should stop the deadheading process. You should wait until early fall to begin this process.
2. Look for the Seed Pod
After you’ve begun letting flowers live out their life, fade, and die, you should begin to look for a seed pod. This is under the old bloom at the base of the flower. The scientific term for its location is the calyx.
When the flower begins to die, let it do this naturally. Don’t remove the flowers to speed up the process of getting to the seed pod.
After the last bloom has fallen, let the seed pod dry until you begin to see it crack. Check the seed pod daily.
When it’s cracked, remove it from the plant by cutting it off.
3. Dry Your Seeds
You should bring your seed pod indoors to finish drying. You’ll crack the pod open and remove smaller petunia seeds from the pod.
4. Crack Them Open and Store
When the pod has been cracked open and the seeds removed, place the seeds in an envelope. Store them in a cool, dry location until you’re ready to start new petunias the next season.
Well, you now know how to start your own petunias from seeds, how to grow them, care for them, protect them from pests and diseases, who to plant them with and who to avoid, and how to harvest your own petunia seeds.
Now, I want to hear from you. Do you have any secrets for growing petunias? Do you have a particular flower you love to grow every year?
We’d love to hear from you. Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.