Petu­nias for end­less sum­mer colour

How do you like your petu­nias? Big and blousy or dainty and diminu­tive? Spread­ing and tum­bling or chunky and up­right? Striped, starred, multi-toned or plain? Bright pri­mary colours, ‘an­tique’ pas­tels, snowy white, or black as night? What­ever your look, yo

Go Gardening - - Editorial -

Their vampy vel­vet trum­pets range from coin-size to cup­size and they’re pro­duced in as­tound­ing vol­ume in a non-stop dis­play from spring till the first frosts of win­ter. The sooner you plant them, the longer you’ll en­joy their star­tling ef­fects!

No mat­ter how small your gar­den or how lim­it­ing your soil may be, petu­nias make it easy to fill your sum­mer with flow­ers. In Europe, limited out­door space has never re­pressed the pas­sion for gar­den­ing. Every­where you look colourful flow­ers cas­cade from win­dow boxes, hang­ing bas­kets and pots.

Apart from their beauty and en­durance, petu­nias are a first choice among container plants be­cause of their abil­ity to per­form in hot weather and lower wa­ter­ing re­quire­ments. They’re of­ten mixed with ivy gera­ni­ums, sil­ver he­lichry­sum, yel­low bi­dens and blue or white lo­belias, but there is hardly a more fail­safe choice for sum­mer pots and bas­kets than petu­nias.

No longer must we put up with flow­ers that droop and die like soggy tis­sues in wet weather. The petu­nias we planted a gen­er­a­tion ago have long been dis­placed by strains with more weather tol­er­ance and more dis­ease re­sis­tance than ever be­fore. Over the 250 years since they were first dis­cov­ered in their na­tive South Amer­ica, they’ve un­der­gone huge changes at the hands of plant breed­ers and seed com­pa­nies.

There are new and im­proved pe­tu­nia genes at both ends of the cost spec­trum. As the lower cost op­tion, seeds and seedling petu­nias sold in pun­nets (or as ‘pot­ted colour’) in­clude va­ri­eties that per­form bet­ter than ever. For a lit­tle more we can buy one large, multi-branch­ing pe­tu­nia plant that will quickly fill a large pot or bas­ket, one plant of­ten do­ing the job of up to ten bed­ding plants.

Tried and true

The ‘Colour­wave’ petu­nias started a pe­tu­nia revo­lu­tion when they romped onto the scene in the mid nineties, flow­er­ing con­tin­u­ously for six to nine months. Still a top choice among gar­den­ers in­ter­na­tion­ally, they keep on get­ting bet­ter. Check out the colour range at www.colour­wave.co.nz

Su­per­sized

One plant of the hugely pop­u­lar Pe­tu­nia ‘Rasp­berry Blast’ will fill a large hang­ing bas­ket to over­flow­ing with stun­ning twotoned blooms. It also per­forms ex­tremely well in pots or gar­den soil, spread­ing to 60 – 80cm wide with a height of around 25cm. Read more about ‘Rasp­berry Blast’ at www.gar­den­ing­so­lu­tionz.co.nz

Re­cently re­leased ‘Hap­pitu­nia’ petu­nias are an­other highly suc­cess­ful strain of fuss-free, per­pet­ual sum­mer bloomers. They in­clude the top-rated ‘Bub­blegum’ se­ries in shades of pink and white. These su­per vig­or­ous, low­main­te­nance plants are great land­scape or bas­ket fillers, reach­ing 40-60cm tall and cov­er­ing at least 60cm in di­am­e­ter. The Bub­blegum petu­nias are truly peren­nial and will last for about 3 years in pots or planted in the gar­den. They will take a light frost, al­though in colder cli­mates they’re best in tubs to sur­vive the win­ter. An­other Hap­pitu­nia is the unique ‘Pretty Much Pi­casso’ with bright vi­o­let flow­ers edged lime green. Find out more at www.aussiewin­ners.com.au.

Tidy trend­set­ters

The very lat­est ‘Crazy­tu­nias’ are set apart by their vig­or­ous yet tight, chunky growth habit and their uniquely beau­ti­ful colours, in­clud­ing dark­est un­fad­ing ‘Black Mamba’. Read more on page 20 or go to www.gar­den­ing­so­lu­tionz.co.nz

Other new petu­nias of­fer­ing brand new colour combos are ‘Bum­ble­bee’, ‘Blue a Fuse’ and ‘Twi­light’.

Lit­tle bells

The dainty bell flow­ers of the

Cal­i­bra­choas are, for all in­tents and pur­poses, mini petu­nias. They are how­ever clas­si­fied as a sep­a­rate plant species. Cal­i­bra­choas are known var­i­ously as ‘Mil­lion­bells’, ‘Su­per­bells’, and ‘Sun­bells’. The small flow­ers, just a few cen­time­tres wide are pro­duced in team­ing hun­dreds, com­pletely smoth­er­ing strong spread­ing plants with at­trac­tive small leaves. Like their larger flow­ered cousins they are long bloom­ing, sun lov­ing and highly weather tol­er­ant. The Su­per­bells collection from Aussie Win­ners fea­tures more than ten colours with new ones re­leased ev­ery year. Find out more at www.aussiewin­ners.com.au.

Dwarf Cal­i­bra­choas, ‘Calipetites’ pro­duce tiny flow­ers on close-packed low grow­ing plants just 15cm tall x 30cm wide, ideal for pots and for beau­ti­fy­ing out­door ta­ble tops, they also make colourful ground­cover or gar­den edg­ing. See the range of five bold colours at www. gar­den­ing­so­lu­tionz.co.nz

Clever cross

Cross­ing Pe­tu­nia with Cal­i­bra­choa to com­bine the best qual­i­ties of each has re­sulted in the Su­per­Cal Petchoas (pic­tured on page 15). These plants com­bine large flow­ers with small, non­sticky leaves on a vig­or­ous heat tol­er­ant plant that is more cold tol­er­ant than most petu­nias. Dubbed the ‘all-weather’ petu­nias, Su­perCals grow about 30cm tall by 40cm wide. Strong roots min­imise dis­ease prob­lems.

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