Petunia

(Petunia x hybrida) Petunia is a cold-sensitive tender perennial (hardy in USDA zones 9-11) that is grown in most regions as an annual. It is an excellent container or bedding flower. Petunias as we know them today are descended from two different varieties native to South America. These small-flowered varieties were brought to Europe in the 1800s, where cross breeding and experimenting began. The two were crossed in a natural manner and have been stabilized, making these antique garden petunias a true heirloom, despite the 'x hybrida' in the Latin name. Petunias are from the family Solanaceae, meaning they are related to tomatoes, potatoes and tobacco. The name petunia was given to the flower by French botanists, from the Indigenous South American word 'petun,' meaning tobacco! Our old-fashioned petunias tend to bloom longer and are more fragrant than modern varieties. Plant the tiny seed indoors about 10-12 weeks before your last frost date then transplant outside into a full sun location. Surface sow seeds and just gently press into the soil, as light aids germination. Seeds germinate in 7-14 days. Ideal germination temperature is 80F. Petunias require full sun and rich, well-drained soil. Plants are very heat loving and quite drought tolerant, although consistent moisture (water once a week) is preferable. Space plants 12 inches apart.

 

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