Share the Fantasy
Hybrid Millifloras, a new class of dwarf petunias, debuted in 1996. Forming mounds 6 to 8 inches high and wide, they need no pinching to keep blooming. Small 1- to 1 1/2-inch flowers come in every color except yellow. Hybrid Millifloras such as the Fantasy Series are perfect for containers and hanging baskets.
Meet the Parents
Modern petunias are hybrids of species such as the fragrant white or wild petunia ( Petunia axillaris) and violet petunia ( P. violacea, also sold as P. integrifolia). While the former is rarely cultivated today, the latter is a rediscovered favorite. A trailing plant with small, rosy purple flowers that have dark throats, it blooms nonstop from spring till fall and makes a superb choice for containers. It is also winter hardy from the Lower South on down.
How low can you go? When it comes to trailing petunias, pretty darn low. If 4-inch-high 'Purple Wave' is too tall for you, consider the Supertunia and Surfinia Series. Used in beds, they grow practically flat; they're wonderful cascaders when planted in containers. Both come in a full range of colors and never require pinching.
What Petunias Need
As great as these new ones are, they do have a few demands. Give them full sun with good air circulation, and provide fertile, loose, well-drained soil. To keep them going and making more flowers, feed them every two weeks with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food 15-30-15 or Peters Professional 20-20-20. That's it.
Give petunias a second look. After that, you'll be looking for more.
"New Types of Perfect Petunias" is from the March 2006 issue of Southern Living.