Landscape Spotlight: Petunia

Posted July 26, 2018 in Plant and Tree

You know ‘em, you love ‘em, let’s find out more about ‘em!

Being one of the most popular garden and container flowers, you see these lovely flowers everywhere from the big box store shelves, outside of your favorite restaurant and even in your own backyard.  Who could argue…petunias are pretty, easy to manage and give you a good bang for your buck.

Being prolific annual bloomers, these Argentina-native trumpet-shaped flowers have branching foliage and bloom throughout the summer season.  While petunias can be found in tons of hybrid color combinations, each petunia stems from one of four varieties.

Grandiflora

The oldest variety of petunia is the Grandiflora.  This variety was developed in the 1950s and flaunts blooms measuring up to 5” across on bouquet-shapes plants.  While the flowers are a sight to see, they tend to get mushy from rain/watering and a little gangly and tired in mid-summer.  This variety performs best in reasonable summers without excessive moisture or humidity.  For petunia aficionados, the most popular grandifloras are Super Magic, Storm, Supercascade and Dream.  Deadheading the spent blooms will keep the plants fresh and reblooming!

Multiflora

While multiflora petunia plants are a little bit smaller, their blooms are greater in number, yet a little smaller in scale at about 2” in diameter.  The flowers may be a little smaller, but they do tend to last just a little bit longer than the grandiflora variety.  Multiflora are compact and their stems are sturdy and strong, making them a great contender for areas that experience gusty or constant wind.  Available in both single and double cultivators, the most popular multiflora include Celebrity, Carpet, Mirage and Horizon.  This is the variety to seek if you are looking for plentiful, overflowing, tolerant and hardy blooms.

Milliflora

Milliflora were produced from a genetic mutation of a petunia hybrid.  The result was a dwarf plant, typically no larger than 8” tall and wide.  The flowers are properly proportioned to the plant, being about 1.5” in diameter.  This little beauty produces flowers, flowers and more flowers!  This variety is known to bloom early and quickly.  Because of its smaller scale, these petunias are perfect for garden beds and do well in container gardens.  Picobella and Fantasy are the most popular milliflora and they do not require any deadheading to keep the plant prolific!

Wave or Spreading

When this variety was introduced, it certainly rippled the water in the landscaping community.  Wave petunias may only grow about 6” tall, but their can spread up to 4’ in lovely shades of pink and purple!  Double wave hybrids can spread up to 2’ and have more of a color variety in shades of purple, pink, white and red.  To keep these gregarious growers happy, a weekly fertilization with a water-soluble fertilizer will do the trick.  A slow release fertilizer can also be mixed into the soil at planting to satisfy these heavy feeders.  You can search for Easy Wave, Shock Wave and Avalanche to be true winners within your landscape!

Whichever variety you select, be sure to plant in an area that receives a good amount of sun.  However, when the summer heat really sets in, you may find that the flowers take a pause until the temperatures drop and even out.  For this reason, you may want to pick a place that receives partial sun; the dappled sunlight will be a welcomed respite from direct light and heat.

As for design, these flowers work well in so many different applications.  Because of their generous blooms, petunias are excellent in hanging baskets, either by themselves or mixed in as a trailing plant that spills over the edges to create a flamboyant waterfall.  If planted within the landscape, be sure to plant your petunias in large groupings, this will produce the most impact!  If you want your petunias to grace your hardscapes in containers, select impactful colors and place near gathering places.  These cheery containers will soften the hardscapes and brighten the mood of the area.  Universal in design and in application, petunias never disappoint!

For those who live in the Poconos, Lehigh Valley, through the Main Line of Philadelphia and western New Jersey that are looking for inspiration, motivation and collaboration for their own backyards, reach out to MasterPLAN Outdoor Living!  Specializing in the design and installation of structure and landscape, we love to partner with our clients to create custom-tailored outdoor living spaces that fit their lifestyles and properties.  When you are ready to uncover the true potential for your own backyard, we would love to hear from you and welcome you into the MasterPLAN family.

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