Petunias have never really gone out of fashion but they certainly are having a revival over the past year or so. This was brought on by the water shortages but also by a very special new introduction namely Night Sky and his sister Baby Doll. This year we are super excited about the release of their brother Ink Splash, a flat spreading variety that just keeps on going!
Each Night Sky petunia is unique, as the number and size of the white marks vary depending on temperature and sunshine. The best markings come from warm days and cool nights making autumn a perfect planting time for them. Super fast growing Petunia Ink Splash also has unique markings on the flowers but with the with being softer many that have seen it say where Night Sky is dreamy, Ink Splash is arty.
Like all sisters Baby Doll does not stand back for these two. Baby doll has a slightly more compact growing habit not as brash as the boys by she is very showy and has an element of fun which she adds to mixed plantings and works well with companion plants such as Alyssum and Lobelia in the same container.
How to grow the best
Petunias need full sun to really do well. Once planted keep them on the dryer side with little water till they establish and then cut the watering right back and give them almost drought conditions. Petunias are one of the most water wise colourful bedding plants that you can grow.
Well suited to containers where you can control the amount of water you are giving. Hanging baskets gets a revival of note with the next generation Petunias cascading in flower for months at a time. In the garden make sure that they are in well drained soil. Petunias really detest wet feet and if you over water them they will most probably die on you.
As they flower keep your petunia plants clean of spent flowers to encourage more blooms. Many of the new varieties are self cleaning so it is less important on them, especially the cascading and compact dwarf varieties. If the plants are thin and sprawl and flowering seems to be coming to an end a cut bat and a boost with some Multifeed Flowergro will get them back into flower quite quickly.
TIP: Nip out spent flowers to encourage more flowering and to keep the plants more compact you can nip out new grow tips between flowering too.
Calibrachoa or Cali Petunias as now call them are also having a revival with more floriferous varieties being bred. They have come a long way from their original name Million Bells and now have larger flowers and more of them if you can believe. Did you know that they are not actually a Petunia? But they are so similar they have become associated as petunias and as they need similar care it makes it easier to identify them as such. The one thing that they don’t like is to be too dry, they like to be damp but not soggy, so a well drained soil is important for them.
In essence they’re a mini Petunia perfect for small containers or cascading over the edge of a container in full sun. The flowers are the size of a R5 coin or slightly smaller and besides the striking singles there are also very good double flowering ones.
Cali Petunias drop their dead flowers. So as self cleaning annuals you will not have to deadhead them to encourage more flowers. They can last for quite a few months as long as they do not get too wet and cold in winter.
The mode garden certainly has a spot for a Cali Petunia and with new colour being released this year there is bound to be one to suit your colour scheme.