Petunias come in just about any colour except orange, which makes them a top choice for gardeners among summer-flowering annuals. Here are five helpful pointers for growing these care-free flowers in your garden for maximum colour and appeal.
When it comes to petunias, you can choose between bushy or trailing types, depending on where you plan to situate them. In addition, many hybrids do an amazing job of standing up to humid heat.
- Petunias prosper in flower beds, pots or hanging baskets. They’re also great for covering the bare bases of taller flowers.
- Some varieties are fragrant, especially in the evening or early morning.
1. Give small seeds extra care
Tiny petunia seeds need extra attention at first.
- About 10 weeks before the last frost, sow them indoors in a tray prepared with fine soil on top.
- Press the seeds well into the soil, but don’t cover them, and water from below.
- Plant out after danger of frost has passed, in soil amended with compost or rotted manure.
You can always plant seeds outside later in the season when the weather is warmer.
2. Pinch your petunias
Please pinch the petunias to encourage denser growth.
- When seedlings are 15 centimetres tall (about 6 inches), pinch the stem tips to encourage side branching.
- In mid summer, petunias often stage a strong comeback if you use pruning shears or hedge clippers to cut back the plants by roughly half their size.
3. Put away the cigarettes
Odd as this may sound, you shouldn’t smoke around your petunias. Petunias are particularly susceptible to the tobacco mosaic virus.
- If you smoke, do so away from the plants and always wash smoke or tobacco residue from your hands before touching them. Otherwise, you may inadvertently transfer the virus to your petunias.
4. Protect them from downpours
Does it look like heavy rain? Do you want your petunias to look perfect? Even the sturdiest petunias can be flattened by a massive downpour.
- If a torrential downpour is predicted, cover them with a cardboard box or a plastic sheet draped over stakes to keep heavy droplets from clobbering the plants.
- It’s a good idea to mulch petunias so mud won’t splash up and mar the flowers when it rains.
5. Choose according to your needs
These indispensable annuals come in most solid colours and numerous bi-colours that have contrasting veins, edges, centre stars or stripes. So how to choose? Here are some general rules of thumb.
- In a place that’s protected from heavy rains, you can grow varieties in pots that have double, ruffled blossoms.
- When buying petunias to fill flower beds, look for multiflora types, which produce a nonstop parade of medium-size flowers on compact, disease-resistant plants.
- Whenever you want a trailing plant to dress the edge of a container, consider a trailing petunia.
- White trailing petunias go with everything!
- If you want a colour scheme in a bed or garden built around muted pastels, you can pair rich purple petunias with plants that have chartreuse leaves or use soft pinks.