If you’re looking for a way to add quick curb appeal to your house, try planting petunias in your front yard, window boxes, or hanging baskets. They’ll bloom from early spring through early fall and pair perfectly with other annuals and perennials.
Petunias are a perfect addition to any garden and also make great cut flowers.
Want a versatile plant that comes in an abundance of bright bold colors and can be used in all of your gardens, containers, and hanging baskets? Then petunias are your go-to gardening friend. Low maintenance and drought tolerant with a light, sweet fragrance – they're beautiful, desirable, and irresistible to butterflies, hummingbirds, and gardeners alike.
Petunias aren’t what they used to be! When they first appeared in the 19th century, they were lanky plants with tiny flowers. First discovered in South America in the late 1700’s, these wild varieties quickly captured the imagination of gardeners and collectors, who transformed them into the garden petunias we know today.
Once introduced to Europe in the early 1800’s, gardeners began cross breeding them in search of the perfect petunia - a plant with large beautiful flowers in brilliant colors. They ended up creating a wide variety of garden petunias - some with exciting colors or fringed single flowers, others with large and sometimes double flowers. Since then, breeders and gardens all over the world, from Japan to Germany to the United States, have continued to make changes and improvements to the petunia.
Types of Petunias
There are many different varieties of petunias which you can mix and match effortlessly to create the look that fits your style. Trailing petunias are a gardening essential, creating waves of color cascading over the edges of window boxes, hanging baskets, and containers. Spreading varieties are ideal ground covers, and compact varieties are great for edging garden borders.
Petunias are bright, lively and extremely easy to grow.
Grandiflora is the most popular variety of petunia, with large single or double flowers that form mounds of colorful solid, striped, or variegated blooms. Grandiflora prefer cool temperatures - in high heat, stems will stretch. Pair with sweet alyssum, portulaca and ivy-leaved geraniums in mass plantings, containers, or window boxes.
Multiflora varieties are compact plants that bloom prolifically all season, even during very hot or very wet spells. With single or double flowers in hues ranging from white and yellow to pink, crimson, and purple, they deliver a colorful display even when other plants struggle.
Millifloravarieties have petite 1” to 1 ½” blossoms that cover the plant with beautiful vibrant colors. These delicate petunias are great for fairy gardens and are scaled to be an accent plant for larger blooms, adding fullness and contrast in size and color. They require little maintenance and don’t need pruning to continue flowering.
Floribunda are basically an improved multiflora petunia, bred to have larger flowers that blooms earlier. They tolerate both hot and wet periods well and are a fantastic selection for mass plantings, hanging baskets, and containers.
Petunias are one of the most popular flowering annuals.
Spreading varieties are indispensable for anyone with a large area to cover in a short period of time. They spread quickly and bloom profusely, covered with so many blooms you may not see any foliage. At only 4 to 6 inches tall, they make a nice low-growing and fragrant ground cover, a vast improvement over a high maintenance lawn. They’ll also cascade over walls, hanging baskets, and containers for the finishing touch every gardener’s dreams of. With proper care they’re very resilient to heat and humidity. Plant with geraniums and salvia for a bright summer garden.
Calibrachoa is a close relative of the petunia introduced in the 1990’s. These petite petunia-like plants are miniatures in every aspect - flower, leaf and overall plant size. Trailing and mounding varieties are available, stay under 12” tall and bloom profusely, making a beautiful addition to mixed containers, hanging baskets, window boxes and as a carpet of color at garden’s edge.
If you have a nice sunny spot in your garden, petunias are the perfect pick – they’ll flourish in full sun, as long as they get some protection during from the midday heat and. They’ll also grow well in partial shade, although they won’t flower as much and stems will stretch more.
When buying petunias, there are a few things to keep in mind. Look for plants with both flowers and buds – this will help you see the bloom colors and also provide ongoing color after planting. Select plants with clean, green foliage without any dried leaves or spots. Avoid plants with soil that is water-logged.
Petunias are very easy to grow and will reward you with months of colorful blooms, asking little in return other than occasional watering. To get the most out of your petunias, you'll also want to fertilize and prune them to get fuller with more blooms.
Petunias will bloom all summer long.
Petunias really only need to be watered by the rain but if the soil gets very dry or there is a prolonged dry period, they’ll need watering to keep the soil moist. If you’re growing petunias in a window box or other container the soil will dry out quicker so water as needed.
Your plants will grow and flower without feeding, but for more prolific blooms, fertilize once a month to encourage blooming. If you have double flowered petunias, increase the frequency to once every two weeks.
Most petunias, other than the milliflora and spreading petunias, should be pruned to ensure they produce new shoots and flowers. If you don’t prune your petunias they’ll grow out of shape by midsummer and bear fewer flowers.