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One of the most popular annuals, petunias add mountains of color to gardens and containers. These tough plants are capable of putting on loads of blooms all season long and come in a wide variety of colors and patterns to suit any need. While most petunias available nowadays are complex hybrids, they used to come in roughly two general classes, grandiflora and multiflora. Grandiflora petunias were bred for their large, showy blooms while multiflora were bred for quantity over quality, producing numerous smaller blossoms.
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From 6 inches to 8 feet
1 to 4 feet
Petunias have always been known for their vast selection of colors and patterns, and now more than ever, the options seem almost endless. There are new varieties being released in new shades every year. Countless color options are available, along with patterns like stripes, splashes, and even hearts. The blossom size selection is quite diverse as well. Whether you're looking for a low-growing groundcover, a mounding type for containers, or a rambling wild plant to fill up some space, there is a petunia for every situation.
Petunia Care Must-Knows
One of the characteristics that makes petunias such a valuable and commonly used plant is their ease of growth. Modern varieties require very little maintenance and aren't too picky in growing conditions. As long as they are planted in well-drained soils, they typically won't have any problems. In anything less, there is a chance that they could have problems with rot and fungal issues. Since petunias are such vigorous bloomers, they do need a substantial amount of nutrients to keep up their blooming power, so plant them in soils rich in organic matter. It is also beneficial to fertilize them fairly regularly throughout the growing season.
It is important to plant petunias in full sun, as anything less can lead to fewer blooms and lankier plants. Much like planting in wet soils, less than full sun can make plants more susceptible to fungal diseases. Part sun also allows soils to stay wet longer, increasing the likelihood of rot.
Similar to flowering tobaccos, a close relative, petunias can be susceptible to some pesky bugs, especially during the heat of the summer, but rarely in large enough quantities to be of concern. Keep an eye out for whiteflies and aphids, as they will most likely pester petunias. Petunias are fairly low maintenance, but older varieties, especially seed-grown types, may require deadheading to keep up a constant display of blooms. Meanwhile, most new types are self-cleaning, so deadheading is unnecessary. If they get too leggy, some petunias may also benefit from an occasional shearing back to help encourage a new flush of compact growth.
Every year, petunia varieties with new and unique colors and patterns are released. The latest trend in petunia breeding has been focused on pattern effects like heart-shaped coloring and spotting, where every petal is unique. Breeders are also constantly improving disease-resistance to make the plants tougher and longer-blooming. More and more, varieties are also being bred to be more compact, making them perfect for container gardens.