Thursday, January 29, 2009

Petunia question

Just wanted to let you know that i was a little disapointed that the sassy petunias did not spread like they were suppose to they actually became very leggy and sparse. i have been able to water them because i have my own water tanks, So lack of water was not the issue. Shirley.

Shirley is one of my big successes, drove miles & miles to collect her Sassy Petunias so this is a bit of a problem.

Spreading Petunias are genetically interesting. Unfortunately I don’t have all the details at hand and you would probably be bored any way. Suffice to say that there has been a great deal of breeding work done on Petunias in the past 10 years that has led to tiny miliflora Petunias, a new genus: Calibrachoa and the addition of some rather primal genes created Spreading Petunias. They really can spread dramatically.

This leads me to wonder about Shirley’s Petunia question. Perhaps Shirley is being too kind. Too much water, too much fertilizer and possibly too much shade? I immediately thought of shade. Petunias love the sun. Strong sun and a relatively dry position are very important to keeping stems short and initiating flower buds. This is true of all the flowering plants I deal with you just have to be careful that some plants will scorch more quickly when the environment dries out and the light and heat get too much.

So what can Shirley do? Cut them back and start again. We regularly cut Petunias back and they invariably look better the second time around because they grow back more compact than the first flush. This is particularly true of the spreading types which can be cut over and over.

Are they perennial? Yes Petunias are technically perennial. Severe winters in Europe and the US have led to their use as annuals. In most Australian conditions they will look pretty sad over winter but will then bounce back quite happily. The additional vigour of the spreading types makes them particularly good at this.

By the way. We have some lovely Terra Cotta pots of Plush Petunias in the nursery. I noticed this morning that the white ones are a perfect mound of white flowers, the Red ones are pretty good but their natural habit is obviously a little more rangy than the white.

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