Performance Petunias

Petunia-mainLast week, we reviewed the Spreading Petunia, one of the garden standards of the spring and summer. Spreading Petunias fill a space with color and spill over with style. However, they are not the display and performance champions among petunias—that title would go to the Vegetatives. These differ from other varieties of petunias in that they are not grown from seeds but started through vegetative cuttings. This means that, effectively, every plant is a clone of any other within a cultivar.

‘Pretty Much Picasso’

To understand the merits of Vegetative Petunias, we first have to look at the standard petunia grown from seed. Seed petunias are frequently budget cultivars because seed production is significantly cheaper than cuttings. Unfortunately, seed production also introduces variability that is hard to control. Out of 1000 seeds, some plants will perform well and some plants won’t. Different varieties have different performance characteristics, but overall the predictability of the crops will have a wide swing. Petunias are especially susceptible to variation because the plants have so much going on genetically.

‘Black Velvet’

On the other hand, Vegetative Petunias are little snips of a plant, rooted out again and again and again. This style of propagation is more expensive, but the breeder selects the very best of the best and effectively photocopies the plant, while the buyer benefits from incredible performance and incredible predictability. Vegetative Petunias always perform well: plant to plant, crop to crop, cultivar to cultivar and season to season.

‘Famous Lilac Dark Vein’

For a crop as important as petunias the breeding companies usually put their best breeders on the job, so we see consistently high performance from this class. Plants cost more in the end, but the payoff is performance that the seed varieties just cannot match. Bigger flowers, richer scents, a greater range of colors and patterns and so many more blooms make the vegetative material the undisputed champion of quality.

‘Lavender Skies’

Diversity is the name of the game with the Vegetatives. Petunias are essentially floral fashion, so we can’t emphasize enough how important it is for you to mix up your selection. Stock up on the usual varieties, yes; but add a healthy dose of the new and different to your presentation. Our photos here feature a small selection of our choices, but we back up the category with a pretty large mix.

For example, we are shipping this week:

  • (49) different kinds of 4.5-inch Vegetative Petunias
  • (18) different kinds of 10-inch hanging baskets
  • (14) different kinds of 8-inch Vegetative Petunias
  • (15) different kinds of 6-inch and 12cm Vegetative Petunias along with popular cultivars grown in 12-inch hanging baskets, 1801Ls, and 1801Ds

‘Rhythm and Blues’

Display Vegetative Petunias prominently, especially where traffic is high. Landscapers—feature these petunias in your showpiece gardens and centerpiece beds. Retailers—place them front and center where customers enter the property, or perhaps where folks first start to browse. They have that compelling “WOW” firepower that make them an important part of every retailer’s and landscaper’s toolbox.