Petunia

Petunia is a genus of 20 species of flowering plants in the family Solanaceae, subfamily Petunioideae and it is native to South America. Well known members of Solanaceae in other subfamilies include tobacco (subfamily Nicotianoideae), and the cape gooseberry, tomato, potato, deadly nightshade and chili pepper (subfamily Solanoideae). Some botanists place the plants of the genus Calibrachoa in the genus Petunia, but this is not accepted by others. Petchoa is a hybrid genus derived from crossing Calibrachoa and Petunia.



Petunia species are mostly annual herbs. The leaves are sessile (e.g., lacking a petiole, or leaf stem) and are usually oval-shaped with smooth margins; some feature fine sticky hairs. The flowers are funnel-shaped, consisting of five fused or partially fused petals and five green sepals. The Petunia genus includes a dazzling array of bloom colors, like pink, red, purple, and white, as well as bicolors, picotees, and blooms that look like the night sky, speckled with stars. A tender perennial, most of the varieties seen in gardens are hybrids.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

6 - 24 inches


Width-Circumference (Avg)

Upto 4 feet


Approximate pH

6.0 - 7.0


Types of Petunia


Petunias are divided into different groups, mainly based on flower size:

  1. Multiflora petunias are the most durable and prolific. They have smaller but more abundant flowers and are ideal for summer bedding or in a mixed border (because they are more tolerant to wet weather).

  2. Grandiflora petunias have very large flowers and are best grown in containers or hanging baskets (because they are more susceptible to rain damage). These large petunias often do not fare as well in the south because they’re prone to rot during humid, hot summers.

  3. Floribundas: Floribundas are intermediate between the grandiflora and the multiflora groups. They are free-flowering like the multiflora varieties and produce medium-sized blooms.

  4. Millifloras: Milliflora petunias are much smaller than any other petunias on the market. The flowers are only 1 to 1½ inches wide, but they are prolific and last all season!

  5. Spreading or Trailing Petunias: These are low-growing and can spread as much as 3 to 4 feet. They form a beautiful, colorful groundcover because the flowers form along the entire length of each stem. They can be used in window boxes or hanging baskets.


Multifloras Types:


Southern Star



Originated in Mexico, this Petunia is decorated with frayed edges on the petals and comes in colors such as lilac, white, and soft pink.


Primetime


This easy-to-grow petunia variety is perfect for groundcovers and containers. The beautiful flowers have velvety hardy petals and are available in deep rose and lavender colors.


Celebrity



The bright flowers of this petunia from the ‘Multiflora series’ are ideal for hot and humid conditions. It is available in a range of colors that includes pink, salmon, red, raspberry, yellow, cobalt blue, lilac, and variegated mixed colors.


Carpet



This hardy, low-growing velvety furled petunia is ideal for containers and groundcover. It flowers in rose, pink, sky blue, white, lilac, and bright red colors.


Horizon


The beautiful, funnel-shaped flowers of this variety are available in blue, red, coral, pink, and raspberry shades. Most of the flowers are variegated and features more than one color on each petal.


Mirage



‘Mirage’ is an upright, mounded petunia variety, with robust and vigorous growth. It comes in red, creamy-yellow, lavender, white, soft pink, white, coral colors and many variegated types.


Success



This petunia produces a very dense plumage all summer long and comes in colors such as purples, shades of pink, and coral.


Grandifloras Types:


Dreams Pink


‘Dreams Pink’ has a mounding growth habit and thrives in the sun. The large deep pink flowers have dark pink veins and white centers.


Daddy



This variety produces beautiful flowers in bright red, lilac, pink, and rose colors with deep veins on each petal. It prefers plenty of sunlight and flowers from spring to summer.


Supercascade



This sun-loving variety has an upright growth pattern. It flowers from late spring through the summer and available in bright-red, rose-pink, lavender, and a variegated form with deep-purple markings.


Ultra



If there’s ever a contest for the most alluring flower, this will win it hands down! The flowers have distinctive white markings on the contrasting red, purple, blue, and pink colors.


Storm



It does well in all kinds of weather and also comes in a bright shade of purple. The show-stealer are the big flowers.


Alladin



Adorned with beautiful ruffles, the Alladin stands out with its blooms. Growing up to only 15 inches, the variety is perfect in hanging baskets.


Amore



Amore or Queen of Hearts is a gorgeous variety that comes in a very vivid raspberry pink, purple, and cadmium red. It is one of the best Types of Petunias you can grow.


Bingo Perfectunia


A latent creeper and small in size, the Petunia bingo is great when kept in baskets or hanging planters. It comes in solid neon red, pink, purple, blue, orange, peach, and rose hues.


Bravo


This beautiful variety of Petunia comes in deep hues of purple, lavender, and blue. Best kept as edge plants, it grows upto 10-12 inches with extremely photogenic flowers.


Lambada


Growing in a compact manner Lambada grows beautiful flowers all season long. The plant looks great in borders and blooms in colors like salmon, burgundy, and pink.


Merlin



A common Petunia variety, the Merlin grows with white trims around the petals. Growing up to 14-20 inches high, it has a dense plumage and makes for an excellent garden bed fringe.


Sanguna


These flowers bloom early and offer bundles of color all summer long. Their colors include various shades of blue, as well as burgundy, and white.


Floribundas or Hybrid Types:


Purple Vein Ray



This beautiful petunia variety has a large purple flower with dark purple veins. The plant can withstand the hottest days of summer.


Kandy Kane


This beautiful variety comes with red and white stripes. It can do well in full sun and shade. Grow this versatile plant in flower beds, hanging baskets, and pots.


Classic White


This elegant variety exhibits 2-3 inches wide white flowers with deep veins and yellow centers. It has a mounding growth habit.


Debonair Dusty Rose



It features beautiful flowers with pale pink edges and white surroundings. The plant has an upright, mounding growth habit that makes it perfect for containers and small gardens.


The Tiger Petunia


Just like the name, the flowers are patterned in red-yellow and orange stripes resembling the skin of a tiger. This hardy plant has a strong growth habit.


Cascadia Rim



This beautiful hybrid petunia comes in a range of colors that includes yellow, magenta, lime-green, cherry-red, bright pink, purple, and orange. The bright flowers have white rims and are disease-resistant.


Red Petunia



The red petunias are available in a range of sizes and shapes, from trailing to bushy. The fragrant flowers will be the center of attraction for hummingbirds and bees in your garden.


Black Velvet Petunia



This velvety shimmering black petunia has a deep purple that looks black at first glance. It took four years of hard work to develop this stunning variety.


Night Skies



This unique and dramatic flower looks like the sky at night hence the name. The beautiful blue surface of the flower has pure white blotches.


ColourWorks


With a semi-trailing habit, the ColorWorks usually come in tones such as pink with dark-pink centers, pink with white centers, and blue with white centers.


Dekko



With a luscious spreading habit, the Dekko looks great in a classic planter and hanging baskets alike. It comes in a vast number of colors, including blue, dark lavender, and indigo.


Double Madness



With a dense look, the Double Madness and its double blooms come in colors such as blue, rose, peppermint red, burgundy, wine, salmon, white, and many others!


Glow


It gets its name for the vivid colors that have never been seen before in vegetative trailing petunias. Bright purples and bright pinks are common among this variety.


Potunia


The Potunia has trumpet-shaped petals that grow upright and attract hummingbirds easily. It comes in beautiful shades of indigo, lavender, amber, neon raspberry, and dark-red.


Millifloras Types:


Picobella



The miniature flowers of this petunia come in an eye-catching shade of red, white, purple, white, and deep blue. Its compact size makes it ideal for small borders and beds.


Fantasy


Its small size and easy to grow nature makes it perfect for newbie gardeners. If you have always wanted a perfect flowering plant for your patio containers or borders, this is it!


Spreading or Trailing Petunias Types:


Easy Wave Yellow



This wave series petunia grows higher than most wave varieties. The beautiful white flowers have deep yellow veins and throat.


Shock Wave



‘Shock Wave’ petunia flowers from late spring to summer in a range of colors from rose, pink. Purple, coral, raspberry, and white. This petunia is ideal for containers and small space gardens.


Avalanche



This wave series cultivar comes in a range of color that includes pink, white, violet, and lavender. You can pair it with other plants in the same garden.


Purple Wave



The spreading growth habit makes this plant ideal for borders of flower beds or ground covers. You can plant this variety in hanging baskets as it drapes over the sides beautifully.


Blanket


Vivid and bright, these petunias grow upto a foot tall and 1-3 feet wide. It comes in stunning colors – purple, pink, and peach.


Planting Petunia


Petunias need full sun or they will become spindly. They don’t tend to flower well in shade.


The soil should drain well and not stay overly wet, especially in containers. It should also be moderately fertile to promote the best growth. Amend poor soil with finished compost prior to planting.


When to Plant Petunias

  • It’s easiest to buy young plants from a nursery that sells petunias in flats. Look for plants that are short and compact. Leggy petunias with tons of flowers already won’t settle in as fast.

  • If you want to grow petunias from seed, start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before your last spring frost date.

  • Plant young petunias outdoors after your last spring frost date, but keep a close eye on the weather forecast and protect young plants from late frosts.


How to Plant Petunias

  • Petunia seeds are very small (dust-like!) and need lots of light in order to germinate.

  • When the young plants have three leaves, plant them outside.

  • Space the plants about 1 foot apart.

  • If you’re planting petunias in containers, use a container potting mix that will drain well.


Growing Petunia


How to Grow Petunias From Seed


It's most common to purchase young petunia plants from a nursery. But it can be worth the challenge to grow petunias from seed, especially if you're trying for a particular variety. Start your seeds at least 10 to 12 weeks before your zone's projected last frost date. Here are the steps for planting petunias from seed:

  1. Spread the tiny seeds on top of a moist seed-starting mix. Gently press them down, but do not bury them as they need light to germinate.

  2. Then, cover the container with clear plastic, and put it in a warm spot but out of direct sunlight. You should see seedlings within seven to 10 days.

  3. Once they emerge, remove the plastic.

  4. When the seedlings have three true leaves, they can be transplanted into their own pots until they are ready to be transplanted outdoors.


Petunia Care


The primary blooming season for petunias is in the summer, though they can start in the spring and stretch into fall until the temperature drops and frost arrives. Extreme summer heat also can cause a temporary cease in blooming. Older petunia varieties typically need deadheading (removing spent blooms) for them to continue blooming. Many newer varieties don’t require deadheading, though they’ll still benefit from it to maximize their blooms.


Petunias also will require regular watering and feeding throughout the growing season (spring to fall). And they might appreciate some protection from extreme weather, which can involve moving container plants to a protected area or setting up a temporary cover over garden beds.


Light


Most petunia varieties prefer full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. But in the heat of summer, partial shade (especially from the strong afternoon sun) will help to keep them refreshed and blooming better.


Soil


Petunias prefer a light, fertile soil that provides good drainage. They can tolerate a variety of soil types as long as they are well-draining. Plus, they like a slightly acidic soil pH.


Water


Like many flowering annuals, petunias don’t like to be dry for long periods. But they also don’t like to sit in soggy soil, which can rot their roots. Plus, too much water can result in leggy plants with few flowers. In general, it's sufficient to soak beds weekly with 1 to 2 inches of water when you don't have rainfall. However, some spreading varieties and plants grown in containers typically need more frequent and deep watering. Try not to let the soil dry out more than 2 inches down.


Temperature and Humidity


The ideal temperatures for petunias are roughly 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night. They can tolerate temperatures all the way down to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but frost and freezing temperatures will damage and ultimately kill the plants. Low to moderate humidity levels are best for these flowers.


Fertilizer


Feed petunias at the time of planting with a balanced fertilizer. It’s also helpful to work some compost into the soil. Then, starting in July and continuing until the plants decline in the fall, fertilize every two to three weeks with a liquid fertilizer made for flowering plants. Some of the spreading varieties need weekly fertilization, so be sure to check your plant’s individual care instructions.


Pruning


When planting young petunias, pinch back the stems to encourage more branching and a fuller plant. How far back to pinch depends on the plant. If it is a short, stocky seedling, just pinch an inch or less. But if the seedling is gangly, you can pinch back the stem by half.


Pests and Plant Diseases


Some pests that might bother petunia plants include aphids, flea beetles, slugs, and snails that feed on the stems and leaves. Often you can just hose pests off the plants with a strong blast of water. But if the infestation is severe and impeding flowering, you can use an insecticide.


Petunias can be susceptible to fungal diseases, such as gray mold, especially in rainy climates. Opt for a variety that has a higher tolerance for moisture if you live in wet conditions.


Common Problems With Petunias


Petunias are easy-going plants that bloom often, but they occasionally have issues you can keep under control.


Wilted Flowers or Leaves


There are a number of reasons for wilted petunia flowers or leaves, but most of the reasons come down to water: too much, or too little. Check the soil and if it's not damp, water your petunias. If moist, ease up on your watering routine.


Leggy Stems


Petunias often develop leggy stems, but it's easy enough to remedy: deadhead flowers regularly by pinching back. If this doesn't help your petunia fill out, you can prune its stems back to 2 to 3 inches long, and as it regrows it will be less leggy.


Uses

  • Petunia is used for beautification, bouquets, showy purposes.

  • Petunia is used for air purification.

  • It is used for medicinal benefits - Petunia’s also have some health benefits too – Like the rest of the plant, the flower is extremely fragrant and has a number of medicinal uses including digestive disorders and coughs and colds. It can also be given as a strengthening tonic for seniors and children.

  • Petunias are used as both indoor and outdoor plants.

  • It is used for garden design like bedding plants, containers, edging.

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