Most of you probably have grown petunias. Some of you have moved on, while others remain faithful to this favorite annual flower. And there’s a new wave of petunias making a big splash in the garden.
The plant: Most of you probably have grown petunias. Some of you have moved on, while others remain faithful to this favorite annual flower. And there’s a new wave of petunias making a big splash in the garden.
This award-winning Double Wave hybrid has won the hearts of gardeners who are “so over” the traditional petunia and has caught on with gardeners new to cultivating petunias. Not only are the Double Wave petunias easy to grow, they are more weather-tolerant and easier to maintain, and they put out luscious, double carnation-looking flowers that last all season.
The petunia is a member of the Solanaceae family, calling tomatoes, potatoes and peppers their cousins. The petunia genus was established in 1803 based on wild species found in South America. Double-flowered petunias are mentioned in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until the early 1950s that serious hybridization began. The New Wave series introduced in 1995 has revolutionized and transformed the petunia into the “it” flower of the 21st century. Despite these advances, our adorable desert bunnies will still munch any petunia for lunch, so take care to place them out of reach.
Growing guide: Full sun or light shade.
Culture: Prepare soil for flowering plant cultivation. I like to use a fertilizer with mycorrhizae and trace minerals. Trace minerals and mycorrhizal fungi spores provide essential mineral elements and add vital biological life to garden soils and potting mixes. Mycorrhizae can help a plant to absorb 10 to 50 times more nutrients and to take up minerals normally not available. The result is more robust, healthy and disease-resistant plants.
Plant in fall or early spring. You’ll find transplants at nurseries, but if you want to grow unusual varieties or colors there are many options from seed catalogs or online. We normally think of petunias as good container plants, but the Double Wave petunia can make an impressive ground cover, too. They are low-growing at just 4 to 6 inches tall, but can sprawl up to 3 feet in diameter. Plant one plant per every square foot for good coverage.
It’s easy to look like a gardener extraordinaire when planting them in containers. Their full, lush appearance can put on quite a show hanging from a porch, balcony or patio container. I love the baskets you see hanging from light posts in quaint Victoria, British Columbia. To get the same rounded, cascading look at your house, use a moss-lined basket. Plant four plants in a 10-inch-diameter basket working up to 10 plants in an 18-inch-diameter basket. Insert up to 10 more transplants into the sides of the basket to achieve the overflow of color. Water deeply. Soil should be well-drained and kept moist as heat rises.
Maintenance: To keep up with the fast, sprawling growth, apply organic fertilizer monthly or every couple of weeks. If you prepared the soil well, a liquid feed of hydrolyzed fish emulsion and seaweed extract should keep your petunias happy. Yellow leaves signal the need for nitrogen. Apply a good slow-release or heavy one-time application of organic fertilizer.
Although Double Wave petunias are more disease-resistant than others, it’s still a good idea to rotate planting areas each year to keep them disease-free. Botrytis is a common fungal ailment unkind to petunias that can survive winter in soil. Unlike traditional petunias, Double Wave petunias continue to bloom freely without being trimmed back.
Barn Goddess tips: Tidal Wave Silver F1 is among the most heat-tolerant of the sprawling petunias. They are an aggressive grower and are botrytis-resistant. They are considered a “hedgiflora,” meaning plants can take on a shrub appearance. The silvery blooms make Tidal Wave Silver F1 a perfect flower for moon gardens.