Petunias: A Classic

Authored by Kristelle Falk - Greenhouse Sales Manager
Sept 9th, 2019
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When you think of a Petunia, what do you think of? For me I think of bursts of colour, great structure and, simply put: a classic.

Now not everyone’s experience with petunias is this way. Many see petunias as scraggly, sticky, flowers that for the life of them will not look like what the plant magazines always show. So what are we missing? How is there such a vast difference between some experiences to others? The truth is, it’s the work.

Petunias are often sold as easy care, but like all plants, petunias do require specific attention. Dead heading, regular trimming, good fertilizer, and enough sunlight are all essential for the flower to fully flourish. Petunias can look absolutely incredible with the proper effort, and though yes they are a hardy plant, we cannot forget that even the faithful petunia needs good care.

With our petunias at the greenhouse we fertilize them regularly, about 2-3 times a week with a water soluble fertilizer. However, even this could be increased providing you are using the proper fertilizer, such as a water soluble mix that won’t overwhelm or burn the plant.

When the petunia is establishing itself and begins to grow its branches out into the typical scraggly look, you can give it a good haircut. With an established petunia I would cut back about 2-3 inches, and depending on how large the plant is, you can always cut more. However, as a good rule of thumb cut less and go from there, you can always take more off later, but you can never add back on.

Regular deadheading is also great for a petunias beauty treatment. Petunias are not self-deadheading (unless you have a Supertunia, but thats another topic for a different blog!). This means that when the blooms die, rather than dropping the flowers they will stay on the plant until something knocks them off. This is easy and quick work if you can stay on top of it. Simply find the dead flower heads and pinch it off right under the flower bud, preventing the old flower bud from turning into a seed pod. Petunias going to seed isn’t always a bad thing. If your petunias are in a basket you may notice some baby petunias sprout up underneath!

Though requiring some work, petunias still remain one of the best annuals for flower beds and baskets. They come in endless colours, ranging even to the speckled petals of the Night Sky petunia series. Petunias have been crossbred for years, going all the way back into the early 1900’s, but they have been a garden flower since the 1700’s.

The whole world seemed consumed with this little petunia, determined to get tighter forms, bigger flowers, and lots of colours. Botanists from all over the world laboured to get the gene right. From Japan, to Germany, to America they worked to get the petunia to where it is today. Though as the years progressed and the proper formulas were recorded, petunia crossing now seems like a breeze, with new types of petunias popping up almost every year. You can bet that every cross breeder of petunias is grateful to the predecessors that came before them, paving the way to our glorious array of colour and breeds we have today!

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