Petunia

Height 20-45cm (8-18in)

Planting distance 15-30cm (6-12in)

Flowers early summer to first autumn frost

Any well-drained soil

Sunny site

Half-hardy annual

Since the first plants were introduced to Europe about 1830, the petunia has grown in favour until it is now one of the most popular summer annuals.

Flowering from early summer until the first severe frost, petunias are ideal for edging beds or filling window-boxes, tubs and hanging baskets. The trumpet-shaped flowers come in white, pink, red, lavender, blue and yellow, sometimes bicoloured or veined and sometimes with ruffled edges.

Popular varieties

Petunias are usually divided into two groups.

GRANDIFLORA VARIETIES have a slightly trailing habit and large showy flowers, some of which are double. As they are not weather resistant they do best in a sheltered position.

‘Blue Picotee’ has deep violet-blue flowers with wavy petals edged with pure white.

‘Daddy Mixed’ has large burgundy, mauve and pink flowers, with distinct dark veining.

‘Picotee Mixed’ has flowers in plum-purple, deep-blue, scarlet or rose, all with a broad white edge and waved petals.

‘Razzle Dazzle’ has red, rose, and deep blue flowers striped white.

‘Strawberry Tart’, up to 45cm (18in), has double flowers of ruffled petals in cerise-red with bold white markings.

MULTIFLORA VARIETIES grow into bushy plants bearing large numbers of small flowers. They are more weather resistant than the grandiflora varieties.

‘Brass Band’ has deep primrose-yellow flowers.

‘Carpet Mixed’ produces low, spreading plants, only 20cm (8in) high, with pink, rose, red, plum, blue and white flowers.

‘Dwarf Resisto’ is a short variety, just 30cm (1ft) high, with a mixture of flowers in the typical petunia colours.

‘Mirage Series’ comes between grandiflora and multiflora petunias. They are large-flowered and weather resistant; seeds are available as mixtures or in single colours.

Cultivation

Sow the seeds under glass in early spring at a temperature of 15°C (59°F). Prick out the seedlings into seed boxes. Harden off before planting out in late spring to early summer in light well-drained soil in a sheltered sunny site. Deadhead the plants regularly.

Pests and diseases

Aphids may infest young plants, and virus diseases may distort the leaves, stunt the plants and reduce flowering.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Petunia

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