Petunias Popping

I was asked recently if I had any tips for growing great petunias-this from Ann who writes the Plumsiena blog.   If you have not read it, give it a try. I enjoy her point of view. But back to the petunias;  my first tip-if you love petunias, keep growing them until you get the culture down pat.  I really like the fragrance.  I like the shape and simplicity of the flower.  I like all of the colors.  White, cream, yellow, orange, red, all the shades of pink, cerise, lavender, purple-and don’t forget the bicolor petunias.  They come single and double.  They come mini, standard, and trailing.  What do I like?  I put my effort behind this.

The Surfinia Blue Sky petunia is one of my favorites.  It is a lavender unlike any other lavender-very blue.  Blue flowers are in very short supply in a Michigan garden.  Cornflowers, and bellamosa delphiniums about wraps up the list. I am having a great run with this petunia this year.  I keep them as dry as possible.  I lift up the foliage with my forearm, and water the soil only.  I keep my fingers crossed that summer will be short of rain-as it usually is. What usually is-I cannot depend on this.   

No kidding, I lift this skirt of petunias up so my water hits the soil, and not the plants.  I never put water to the foliage.  This plant likes dry-I try to oblige.  Rain and high humidity-your petunias will pout.  I have had them rot and die overnight in wet weather.  I trim the stragglers right along.  Hard pruning a petunia means many weeks of recovery.  I try to trim a little at a time.  Every trailing stem gets a little haircut, frequently.     

It helps to choose the right cultivars.  Misty lilac wave petunias are my favorite.  The color of this petunia reminds me of the species, while rewarding my efforts with vigorous growth and easy care.  Double petunias are leggy-plant them with a frothy friend, like euyphoriba Diamond Frost.  Some petunias need a buddy to shine.   

Misty Lilac wave petunias-when they are happy, I am happy.  Petunias may be the most common of annual plants, but they have an uncommon beauty.  When they are good, they are very very good-and when they are bad, they are horrid.   

No one knows what weather a summer season will bring.  The National Weather Service predicted a wet summer for my zone.  Did I lay off the petunias?  No; I was willing to take my chances.  Any garden planting is about taking chances.  Sometimes a season cooperates.  Sometimes a season rewards my efforts such that I feel blessed.  Some seasons challenge all of my good intentions, and leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. 

For the moment, my petunias are happy. This planter hosting yellow cannas is underplanted with Surfinia blue sky and Royal Velvet petunias.  They mix via an alternate planting of scaveola.  I am happy about what I see happening here.  How did this happen Ann?  I have no secrets.  Just a big dose of hope, and persistence.     

I almost always mix my container plantings.  I like to hedge my bets.  No matter how well I garden, I am always behind that 8 ball we call nature.  Plant what you love, tend your garden to the best of your ability, and hope even more for the best.     
My petunias-they look great.  Am I responsible for that?  Not really.  I do the best I can.  Madame Nature either helps me, or dashes my efforts.  Ann, some years my petunias are terrible.  Other years, like this year, they prosper.  I am not in charge of anything in the garden.  The best thing I have going for me is my hope, and my persistence.  I give all of the plants in my garden my best effort.  I learn new things all the time, and add that to the body of my experience.  When things do not work out in spite of my efforts-I do not like it, but I accept it.



Being the fan of single flowers that I am, I do like petunias.  The simple trumpet shaped flowers come in a wide range of forms and colors.  The bloom their hearts out, asking little in return. Even the lax and weedy growing species petunia integrifolia is lovely in a cottage garden.  Caring for them is very easy-a little benign neglect can be beneficial.  All that seems to bother them is cool and very rainy weather.  It seems like every year new varieties come to market, and I find few I wouldn’t have.  This supertunia vista silverberry small flowered petunia with a carmine throat is prolific in bloom.  Though graceful and delicate in appearance, it is tough enough to survive the care of a brownie scout going for her first badge. 

The mini petunias are great little mixers.  They go well with other petunias, licorice, diamond frost euphorbia-even plectranthus. If petunias seem to peter out for you later in the summer, a very light and every so often trim back and regular feeding can keep them going late into the season.

The wave series of petunias are very strong spreaders.  Purple wave is a shockingly intense carmine color-wow.  One plant can cover a lot of ground with a lot of color.  They seem to want more water than other petunias, but that is easy enough to supply. Don’t be afraid to plant them far apart in ground-they fill in as soon as the weather gets warm.  Though petunias are tolerant of cool weather, I like to wait until the soil gets warm before I plant them. They are native to Argentina, not Michigan.

This pot of mixed petunias and red parasol mandevillea is a lot of look. Single flowers are striking; masses of single flowers make a big statement. A little frivolous yes-but who wouldn’t welcome a little frivolity now and then?

Petunias make good neighbors. I like mixed pots-should the season not favor one plant or another, the entire pot is not a loss.  Verbena and million bells both have that rambling habit; the variation in flower shape and size has a naturally beautiful appearance. Everyone here is singing their own tune, but it all seems to harmonize.

This fuchsia petunia is also from the Vista series-I like how they perform.  Though the pink hibiscus standards are the star of the show, the small petunias add lots of texture and volume.  The hibiscus trees are weighted visually at the bottom. 

This double white petunia is new to me this year.  The grower fussed about its tendency to get leggy.  Any plants shortcomings is likely to be mitigated by another plant that softens the fault. You just have to find the right plant.   In this case, the euphorbia hides those long legs.

Neon is an apt name for this petunia.  I am especially interested in how the yellow throat sets off that carmine pink so dramatically.  This petunia can soften up the habit of an orange marigold without diluting its best feature-that electric orange.   

Should all that excitement prove to be too much for you, there is always a white petunia.  Or in this case, a vanilla petunia.  It is a soft white that looks good with everything.  I am bemused by those who find petunias entirely too pedestrian.  They do a great job of looking fresh and dressed up every day of the summer.