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May Plant of the Month: Petunias

Petunia (Petunioideae)

The ordinary petunia is an ornamental plant of extraordinary beauty. Popular for window boxes and flower beds, the petunia’s trumpet-like flower provides a riot of color anywhere they grow.

The petunia is technically a perennial but is most often grown as an annual herb. It possesses oval-shaped, sessile leaves, often with fine, sticky hairs. The flowers have five petals, which are sometimes fused and sometimes not. The petunia looks for temperate climates and doesn’t like shade.

spray bottleGROWING TIPS:

Petunias love the sun, so plant them where they’ll get at least six hours of direct sunlight. 

Be sure not to overwater petunias. They can recover reasonably well from underwatering, but overwatering is the number one killer of petunias. Petunias, look for moderately watered, slightly moist soil. Water regularly, but allow the soil to drain well between waterings.

If you’re growing in pots, your growing medium must drain freely. A soil-less mix is just right for this.

A good quality, slow-release fertilizer is best at planting. Still, you can choose to feed your petunias every other week using a diluted 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer.

Watch out for aphids as they find petunias particularly tasty.

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Did You Know:

  • The name ‘Petunia’ derives from a South American word: petun, which is their name for tobacco. Petunias are actually a close relative of tobacco.
  • Petunias' blossoms come in white, yellow, pink, purple, red, and blue. You can find bicolor varieties as well.
  • There are 35 species in the Petunia genus. They are from the family Solanaceae, which is the family of nightshades. These include tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco, and eggplants.
  • Petunias are well known for attracting bees and hummingbirds.