Petunia

AT A GLANCE

Botanical Information

Family: Nightshade Height: 6 to 24 inches A/B/P, Hardiness: half-hardy annual Spacing: 2 per square

Growing Season Spring: late Summer: yes Fall: early Winter: no

Seed to Harvest/Flower: 14 weeks Seeds Storage:

Weeks to Maturity: 8 to 10 weeks Indoor Seed Starting: 8 to 10 weeks before first frost Earliest Outdoor Planting: after last frost

Additional Plantings: not needed Last Planting: not needed

Description

Petunias are one of the easiest annuals to grow, especially if they are purchased as plants. They are branching, creeping plants with light-green, hairy leaves that can be sticky. The trumpet-shaped flowers come in just about every color imaginable, even the once-impossible yellow, and the flower forms range from single to double, ruffled, striped, and scalloped. Petunia flowers come in a range of sizes— grandifloras have 4 to 5 inch flowers, multifloras have 2 to 3 inch flowers, and millifloras have an abundance of tiny 1-inch flowers. Pinch petunia plants back by about one-third before planting, then keep them deadheaded and pruned throughout the growing season for a non-stop performance.

Starting

Location: full sun to partial shade

Seeds Indoors: Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost, 12 to 14 weeks for slower growing varieties. Don't cover the seeds. Petunias can germinate slowly, from 7 to 21 days. Transplanting: Set petunias out when all danger of frost has passed. Pinch at transplanting for better branching.

Basil and Beyond

Growing

Watering: Weekly, 1 cup per plant.

Maintenance: Deadhead to encourage bloom, and prune back by half if the plant gets scraggly.

Problems

Aphids; gray mold and soft rot can occur in humid areas.

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