Petunias are one of the most popular flowers for both landscaping and hanging baskets. They are considered the number one plant as far as ease of care. Petunias produce continuous flowers from spring all the way through to cold weather. The large flowers are shaped like a trumpet and come in a wide variety of colors from white and red, to purple and pinks.
There are also a few fancier varieties of Petunias that are a basic color with a contrasting white stripe. And, still others that have fringed edges. These beautiful plants are half hardy annuals that will thrive in the full heat of the sun. Growing to 18 inches or more, Petunias make excellent plants for a hanging basket. While they don’t actually vine, because of their height they will drape over the side of the baskets like a vine.
Petunias are available in three different types, large singles and large doubles reach a height from 12 to 18 inches. There is also a bedding variety that can grow from 6 to 18 inches in height. The first two types are more appropriate for container planting, while the bedding variety is best for flower beds and borders.
You can purchase Petunias at any home and garden center, or you can start them from seed. Seeds should be sown indoors in a finely sifted potting soil 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost. The seeds need a temperature of between 55 and 60 degrees to germinate. The seeds need light in order to germinate, so just sprinkle them on top of the soil and don’t cover them.
If you want a bushier plant, pinch the tips to encourage branching. These thirsty little flowers prefer soil that is kept evenly moist. After the plants are flourishing, they will need a good quality fertilizer once a month. Once the flowers die remove them and any dead leaves or stems from the plant. As summer ends, you can cut the plant back by about half it’s size to try to promote a second blooming stage.
Remember that although they thrive with lots of heat, extreme temperatures can prevent them from blooming. They will also need more water in high temperature areas. If you live in an area that has really high summer temperatures, it’s best to plant Petunias in partial shade. Petunias can withstand cool weather, but they are very susceptible to cold temperatures.
Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2010 HousePlantsForYou.com