11
February
2019

The New Vista Petunia

PET Vista Paradise  08
Believe it or not, Petunia ‘Vista Paradise’ is a rare occurrence

“Another pink Petunia,” is what you’re probably saying but you’d be wrong. ‘Vista Paradise’ is an important Petunia. It took nine years for Proven Winners to release it. We need this Petunia and we’ll tell you why.

To understand ‘Paradise’ you need to understand ‘Vista’ and for that you need to realize that in our industry, the Petunia is a bikini. Like a trendy bathing suit, we buy it in the spring, enjoy it all summer, and throw it out in the fall; next year another new variety will be all the rage. Petunias are fashion-driven.

Vista is not. Until this year the series had just three colors with the last change occurring almost a decade ago. In this fact, we have the first clue as to why Vista is so successful and why ‘Paradise’ is so important.

PET Vista Bubblegum03
Unusual genetics of ‘Bubblegum’ started the Vista franchise

THE ADVANTAGES OF VISTA

If the Petunia is the fashion swimsuit of the industry, then Vista is the Olympic diving uniform. Have you ever been curious about those Petunias that:

  • Overflow the largest containers you can find?
  • Sit in front of the parking garage and rise above an F-250 truck?
  • Make a wall of pink edging at the zoo, stadium, plaza, or public park?
  • Hang from baskets on rafters and trail like Rapunzel’s hair?
  • Fill a 20-inch container with a single plant?
  • Create that design that’s got everyone talking?

If you want to go for the gold, go with Vista—any long walkway of pink at the Cincinnati Zoo is a good example. Vista has the features that public gardens require: heavy color coverage, good performance in bad weather, a neat habit, and predictable performance.

PET Vista Silverberry 02
This ‘Vista Silverberry’ at Cultivate overwhelmed the other non-Vista Petunias

On another note, Vista holds us to pink or white. Its strengths—and restrictions—are tied to its genetics but in a funny way. Back in 2005 an unusual Petunia appeared in the breeding trials at Proven Winners that was more in many ways: more flowers, greater heat tolerance, a bigger plant, and better disease resistance. It simply had more of everything—who wouldn’t want the Petunia that became 'Vista Bubblegum'.

Usually, such turbo-charging is due to extra chromosomes (tetraploid is the industry term) but ‘Bubblegum’ only got an extra fragment. In the end it was like a one-in-a-million mutation where everything went right instead of wrong, but it also made this tangled knot of success extremely difficult to unravel and repeat. Over the past 13 years Proven Winners has added only two more cultivars to the Vista name—an absolutely glacial speed when compared to other Petunias.

PET Vista Fuchsia 01
Petunia ‘Vista Fuchsia’ is the darkest pink in the series

PRO TIPS

In standard situations like a typical container you can expect a single Vista to fill out a cube roughly 24 by 24 inches or better; it mounds up, but it also spills down. The final size of the plant is controlled by the amount of food and water you supply, especially once it’s deployed into its ultimate home. For Vista to become a monster plant (48 by 48 inches) it needs constant feeding.

In Containers

You can treat Vista like any other Petunia. It handles both filler and spiller roles, so pair it with tall, assertive thrillers like Cyprus, Pennisetum, dwarf Musa, Lobelia, or Verbena. If you want to mix in Euphorbia, use ‘Diamond Mountain’, the taller and more aggressive version of ‘Diamond Frost’. If you choose a plant that‘s a slow grower it gets lost next to the Vista.

PET Vista Silverberry 03
Notice this ‘Vista Silverberry’ is paired up with Cyperus ‘King Tut’

In Garden Beds

It’s a sad truth that in our area the ground is full of Petunia pathogens. Vista has superior disease resistance but it’s not coated in Kevlar. We don’t recommend topsoil or reusing soilless mixture the following year. Rain and wind sweep in pathogens and winter gives them a chance to stew into a toxic brew. Petunia reliability starts in the soil around here.

 To Avoid Stalling

We’ve seen plantings that look great in June but drop half their color in July and stop growing. This is stalling, and it happens because the soil runs out of fuel. Stalling is a shame because a plant can look great in August if it is not starved. Mix slow-release fertilizer into the soil when planting and feed weekly. This is good advice for all Petunias but especially for Vista. Olympic champions are chowhounds for obvious reasons and Vista is no exception. Feed weekly and wash it down with regular watering—and stick to this routine until the season winds down in the fall.

PET Vista Paradise  02
‘Vista Paradise’ with Ipomoea ‘Sweet Caroline Black’ and Hypoestes ‘Hippo Pink’

Sweet Water Problems

If you are working in sterile soil, the only other problem you might run across is an iron deficiency caused by alkaline water. When soil pH turns sweet, iron gets locked away and Petunias lose the ability to create chlorophyll. You’ll know this has happened if you see the signature yellowing or paling of the green leaves; use an acidic fertilizer to move the pH back into range. As you would expect, testing for this issue is better than guessing.

PET Vista Bubblegum04
Prime examples of the vigorous growth within the Vista series

 Grooming Tips for Monster and Premium Installs

A light haircut at planting helps a presentation grow out neatly. It encourages extra branching and focuses the plant on getting wider instead of longer. A late summer trim is helpful, as growth can get top-heavy and cause the plant to open up too much. Cut a large container back by about 20 percent. The plant comes back re-invigorated and looking as fresh as spring for the rest of the year.

Vistas also do better with lots of light. Heavy feeders need heavy sun because they burn through so much energy making all those flowers. Keep up the watering to keep up the growth. Plants have to wash down their food, so daily water with loose soil in July and August is typical for these plantings—pausing only for thunderstorms.

PET Vista Fuchsia 02
Mix Vistas with other Vistas

Rain Performance

In an unusual twist, we are able to discuss rain performance with Vista. Most Petunias turn into a soggy, sticky mess after a good shower but Vista is strong enough to look fresh after a rainstorm. This is important for containers and window boxes that sit outside, and also for public gardens that have to function well in a wide range of summer weather. Vista simply lasts better than other Petunias.

VISTA MEANS VISTA

To their credit, Proven Winners has not polluted the Vista name with knock-offs and close-enoughs. Vista means a Petunia as strong as the original ‘Bubblegum’. This is a very high, and very hard, bar for Petunias to cross.

It explains why it took Proven Winners nine full years to release a Vista in another shade of pink. Not just any shade, by the way—‘Paradise’ is the important middle shade missing from the original team of ‘Bubblegum’ (light pink), ‘Fuchsia’ (dark pink), and ‘Silverberry’ (white with a pink eye). Designers look for a tag team of colors and that missing middle pink is the hole that ‘Paradise’ fills. It’s the same carpet of color and the same caliber of plant with the same performance, but it delivers an important link on the design palette.

So, yes, we get worked up when someone says, “It’s just another pink Petunia.” They should be saying, “Yay! We have another pink Vista Petunia—finally!” That statement would be closer to the truth.

Petunia ‘Vista Paradise’ is available in the 4.5 and 6-inch pot sizes.

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