This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
10 Neat

Things about Petunias

1. The scent of a flower. Petunias

have a heavenly scent in the early part of summer, before they have been polli- nated. It is especially evident at dusk. Once the bees and others have done their work, there is no longer any reason to invest in this kind of manufactur- ing, which was only done to attract the pollinators in the first place, so they stop putting out. Hmmm. Sounds familiar...

2. Deadheading. At one time, petu-

nia gardeners spent half the summer pinching off dead blossoms to ensure that they would continue to produce flowers and not seeds. The latest hybrids no longer require that pleasant labour as they are bred to keep producing blos- soms no matter what.

3. An illustrious and sometimes

dangerous family. Can you say Sola- naceae? (It rhymes with say.) Another name for this family is nightshade, deadly or otherwise. Petunias originated in South America where they belonged to quite a family. Distant relatives include potatoes, tobacco, tomatoes, nicotiana and the mysterious belladon- na, which sultry women used to add to their eyes to make the pupils large. Large pupils indicate sexual desire. Mandrake and Jimson weed are also in the family. Talk about a bunch of hoods among the angels.

4. Overwinter your petunias. Petu-

nias are tender perennials so you could actually take them indoors for the winter if you were so minded. They need a sunny window or other bright light and cooler temperatures between 13 C and 18 C. Cut them back to about three inches in the fall before bringing indoors. You can cut them back again in spring to promote branching and blooming.

5. Planting petunias from seed.

Tiny petunia seeds should be planted about 10 to 12 weeks before transplant- ing out. Just sprinkle them on the soil – do not cover because they need light to germinate. Petunias have been known to self-sow – even in zone 3!

Petunias are a garden staple with many uses. 6. Hummingbirds and moths.

Petunias attract both hummingbirds and moths, especially the lovely hawk- moth that resembles a hummingbird and is the offspring of the ugly tomato hornworm. Are you sensing a connec- tion here?

7. Friend of frost. Petunias, once

acclimatized, can withstand several degrees of frost, so they are a good plant to use for early and late blooms. Don’t overwater petunias, which can withstand rough treatment. Do fertilize potted plants with a balanced fertilizer.

8. Four degrees of separation.

There are four rough categories of petunia: grandiflora (large blooms up to four inches in diameter and includes supercascade, Merlin Blue Morn and Ultra series); hedgiflora (spreading petunias which can grow up to four feet wide, which includes the tidal wave series); multiflora (flowers are up to two inches in diameter, including the carpet and surfinia series); and milliflora with tiny flowers about one inch in diam- eter. These are the most frost and harsh weather tolerant.

Calibrachoa double white 9. Rain, rain, go away. The large

blossomed petunias hate rain, which ruins their beautiful blossoms. You will probably have to deadhead these plants after a storm, but they will reward you with more bloom within a day.

10. Cut to the quick! In mid summer,

it is a good idea to prune petunias back quite severely as the stems stretch and bear fewer flowers as the summer wears on. Cutting them back by at least one third will cause them to branch out and produce more flowers. s

Spring 2016 • 27

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48