Great to grow in containers or to plant along borders, petunias are beginner-friendly flowers with abundant blooms. They’re some of the easiest plants to care for and they can be grown using various methods including from seed or cuttings. Except for particularly hot periods, petunias will delight you with beautiful flowers all summer long. One aspect loved by gardeners everywhere is the way petunias can be found in almost any color.
There’s a vast range of petunia varieties with diverse bloom types, petal styles, and colors. Some petunias are also very fragrant to complete their visual appeal. Thanks to breeding practices, problems with old petunia varieties have largely disappeared. These are perennial plants but nowadays are available commercially as annual hybrids designed to cover various aesthetic styles.
1. Planting Petunias
A classic method to grow petunias is by planting seeds. This process requires you to start them indoors first. The petunia seeds should be exposed to a healthy amount of light to be able to germinate properly. Don’t forget about frequent watering to help the seedlings grow. Once the petunias start to develop a few leaves, they can be successfully transferred in the garden. It takes about 3 months to start petunias from seed so many people prefer to buy transplants and plant them in containers.
Thanks to their prolific blooms, petunias are ideal flowers to use for hanging baskets or other types of pots. Take a look at this set of hanging planters on Amazon. Go for trailing petunia varieties as they work best for containers. The most important thing when planting petunias in this manner is to avoid overcrowding the plants. Pots of petunias can be strategically positioned throughout the garden or hanged in various places to bring a splash of color to the area.
2. Light and Soil Requirements
While a tiny minority of petunias don’t fare well in full sun, the big majority of petunia varieties prefer copious amounts of sunlight to properly develop their blooms. If you live in a hot climate, make sure the petunia flowers get some shade to keep them refreshed. When it comes to soil requirements, petunias don’t have any special needs. The best you can offer for them is a fertile soil that’s slightly acidic and has solid drainage features. Petunias can grow nicely in either clay, loamy, or sandy soils.
3. Temperature and Fertilizer Requirements
The temperature is important during the germination period as extra warmth is required for this process. To get a head start if you’re growing petunias from seeds, it’s recommended to use heating pads to encourage germination. When transplanting petunias, it’s a good idea to use some plant fertilizer. Balanced, all-purpose types of plant food work best to give a nice boost of nutrition to allow petunias to produce their large bundles of flowers. To maximize bloom production, we recommend going for a slow-release fertilizer used regularly until mid-autumn.
4. Water Needs
Thanks to their decent heat tolerance, petunias can handle drought periods. Stick to once a week watering with the exception of long periods of dry weather. Potted petunias will usually require some extra irrigation but you need to be careful when growing these plants in containers to let the soil dry out completely after each watering. Petunias planted in flowerbeds should be thoroughly watered up to a soil depth of 7 inches.
Petunia plants thrive when the soil’s temperature is consistent. For that reason, it’s important to add a nice layer of mulch that acts as a defensive wall for the shallow roots of the plant. This also helps to enhance the petunia’s ability to retain water more efficiently. Use a quality type of mulch that can also deliver some nourishment. Stuff like shredded bark or dried grass clippings should work perfectly.
Without good pruning, petunias might not deliver the desired results in terms of flower production. When mature plants become leggy it means that they need to be revitalized to help them generate new blooms. Use a quality pair of pruning shears to remove dead flower heads. This process will stop the plant from going to seed and support blossoming. Complete deadheading is recommended if you plan on taking the petunias indoors during the winter.
7. Common Diseases and Pests
Petunia flowers grow easily without requiring intensive maintenance but you still need to watch out for common problems like pests and diseases. If you live in a particularly rainy climate, it’s important to be aware of gray mold and soft rot diseases and opt for more weather-resistant petunia cultivars. The most common pests for petunias are aphids and budworm caterpillars. Aphids can be removed with the help of a good garden hose while the small green caterpillars can require more potent treatment with the help of organic pesticides.