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HOW TO GROW PETUNIAS
The little giant of the garden, the humble petunia, is one of the most beautiful of flowers. Available in many shapes and colors, the Petunia is easy to grow and rewards the gardener with a spectacular splash of color from early Spring until the first frost of Fall.
There are hundreds of varieties of Petunias. Some of the more popular are:
Grandiflora is probably the most popular and common. They produce large three to four inch flowers. Growing twelve to fifteen inches tall, this variety is suitable for hanging baskets and window boxes as well as throughout the garden.
Multiflora petunias are smaller and more compact but are prolific in sheer numbers of blossoms. They are often used where big splashes of color are desired.
Milliflora petunias are compact plants that produce abundant quantities of small one to one and a half inch blossoms. They are ideal for edging the garden or walk ways.
Groundcover or "spreading" petunias are only about six inches tall, but spread so rapidly that they cover a huge area over one growing season.
Petunia plants (seedlings), ready to set out in the garden, may be obtained from the garden shop. However, since Petunias are annuals, you will have to purchase them every Summer. An alternative is to plant seed. Petunia seed are very tiny, about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Therefore, they must not be planted under the surface. Just scatter the seed on top of the soil and brush slightly or press the seed down lightly with your fingers. Water gently to prevent the water from washing all the seed to the lowest point.
Seedlings should appear in 7-10 days if the seeds have been kept moist and the temperature is maintained at 60-85 degrees. When the seedlings are 3-4 inches tall, thin to one plant every 4 inches. Fertilize with a 10-10-10 diluted liquid fertilizer every three weeks.
Petunias love lots of sun and heat, so be sure to locate them where they will get at least 6 hours a day of direct sun. Remove dead blossoms daily to keep the plant producing flowers. After dead blossoms are removed, a brown seed pod will develop where the blossom was removed. Save three or four of these seed pods every year and you will never have to buy Petunias again.
A final note on planting seed indoors. It will take 10-12 weeks for Petunias to get big enough to plant outdoors, so plant indoor about 12 weeks before the last frost in your area. Be aware that Petunia seeds require light to germinate.
However, they should NOT be put in direct sunlight but in a location with indirect lighting. After the seedlings appear, move to a bright light location.
Follow these tips and you will have colorful Petunias that will fill your garden with blossoms all summer long.