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Growing Petunias, Bedding Flowers Like No Other | Flower Patch | North American Farmer

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Growing Petunias

About Petunia Flowers: Easy to Grow Bedding Flowers Like No Other

by Frances Santos

The Petunia Flower - Growing PetuniasThe petunia is a genus of popular flowering plants that originated from South America. It is closely related to tobacco, tomatoes, cape gooseberries, potatoes and chili peppers belonging to the family solanaceae. The petunia flower derived its name from the French word petun, which means “tobacco”. Most petunia varieties used for gardening are hybrids.

Growing petunias is very popular in gardening. These are used as bedding flowers because of their colorful and beautiful blooms. The flowers are shaped like trumpets surrounded by hairy and sticky branching foliage.

Petunias are prolific bloomers but some types need deadheading in order to keep on going. Most varieties bloom throughout summertime with the exception of extreme heat conditions. Petunias can come in just about any color. This is why the petunia flower is one of the most popular bedding flowers today.

There are hundreds of petunia hybrids that are usually organized by their blossom size. The size of the plant ranges from 6 inches to around 2 feet in height depending on the particular kind. Petunia foliage can be pale to medium green. The leaves are soft and quite hairy, shaped like elongated ovals that have pointed or rounded tips, and smooth edges. Sometimes, they can be a little sticky.

The traditional petunia blossom is single and has a trumpet-like shape with grooved or smooth petals. However, modern hybrids feature double, fringed or ruffled flowers. Petunias have blossoms that range from around 2 to 7 inches in diameter.

Petunia Propagation

Petunias can be propagated by seed or by cuttings. However, petunias are usually just propagated by seed. It is advisable to start the seeds indoors 8-12 weeks before the last frost in the area. Sow the seeds on the surface of the soil and do not cover them. Water them thoroughly moistening the soil. To increase the level of humidity, cover the dish with clear plastic. It should be placed in an area that receives light. Keep in mind that petunia seeds need light to germinate.

Also, petunias prefer warmer temperatures for germination. A good tip is to start the seeds on heating pads or place it on top of the refrigerator for heat and when germination occurs it can be transferred to a cooler area.

Do not allow the soil to become dry by misting every day. Germination will occur around 7-21 days depending on the species and soil temperature. When the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic and place it where there is sunlight. When the seedlings already have a second set of leaves, it is ready for transplant to individual pots. This will happen in around 2-3 weeks.

How To Grow Petunias

Petunias grow best in full sun. For hotter areas, it is advisable to have partial shade. Petunias like cool weather but they are not tolerant to frost. This is why it is very important to wait until all danger of frost is over before planting outdoors.

To have a fuller plant with more branching, pinch the seedling back. For short and stocky seedlings, you just need to pinch around an inch or less. If the seedling is lanky, it should be pinched back by half.

Petunias can tolerate a wide range of soil PH. Just remember that they don’t like to be dry, so misting is very important. However, don’t overdo it because they also dislike wet feet.