En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
4 ratings

Sunday - July 13, 2008

From: Bellevue, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Propagation, Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Deadheading a petunia and why
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you please tell me the correct way to de-head a petunia and why?

ANSWER:

Petunias are highly hybridized for color, shape and height, so they're not in our Native Plant Database. However, we can tell you that deadheading an annual plant such as petunias will help to encourage more bloom. The whole point to having an annual is to have a long blooming season, and then the plant dies and is discarded. A plant's goal in life is to reproduce itself. In order to do that, it must produce seeds. In order to do that, it must flower. If, as soon as a flower has faded, you snip it off, the plant will immediately try to flower again. There is no point in trying to gather seed from a hybridized plant such as a petunia, because it will rarely breed true from seed. Besides, petunia seeds are like dust, and very difficult to gather, store and germinate. You can, of course, just pinch the spent blossom off with your fingers, but we always preferred some sharp snips or garden scissors, and snipped off the stem above the next leaf.

For more general information on petunias, read this University of Minnesota Extension article by Deborah Brown on Growing Petunias.

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Butterfly Plants for Chicago
September 13, 2014 - I live near Chicago, IL and am interested in planting a butterfly garden. Not sure when to start, but I want all native plants that would attract butterflies. Can you please let me know which plants ...
view the full question and answer

Petunias pollinated by clematis from Logansport IN
July 11, 2012 - Can petunias be pollinated by clematis? I have 2 petunias that have split blooms and look like a small clematis flower. They are growing close to a jackamani clematis.
view the full question and answer

Native plants for border in Katy, TX
May 13, 2009 - I live in Katy, TX. I am looking for a native plant for front of the border edging (approx 10 inches).
view the full question and answer

Blue plants or flowers in Baltimore, MD
July 27, 2007 - I have a taxi company in the city called Bluecab. The headquarters is in an industrial area and the soil is tough and well, industrial. There will be no watering or maintenance done. Looks like a car ...
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars on Milkweed in MA
January 23, 2016 - I have found every year a black/red caterpillars on my milkweed. They eat everything! I have never been able to find out what they are or how to get rid of them.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center