16
June
2014

Petunias in the Landscape

Pet-0For landscapers who know their boxwoods and arborvitae, petunias are a great source of supplemental income. You’ll be leaving money on the table if you don’t offer them. The trick is to make the basics available so customers can experience what makes the petunia such a crowd pleaser. The majority of petunias we ship are destined for garden beds so they are purchased for their heavy color impact. A well-grown bed of petunias is hard to match for that solid blanket of color we admire so much.

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Because it produces such an impressive display, the most common petunia design we see is a mass planting of a single color into the landscape bed; the bigger the bed, the more impressive the show. You’ll also discover that these petunia gardens underscore the architectural lines already present on the property. Planting petunias along a curved walkway, for example, is like marking it with a highlighting pen. Likewise, you can trace any circle, diagonal or other feature of the property with petunias.

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Public gardens benefit from this technique because it unifies the visual look of the grounds under a single theme. For some businesses, the landscape design becomes a signature look that clients and visitors identify with the company. By locating a petunia that matches their corporate colors, you can extend a client’s branding onto their grounds as well.

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For landscape beds, we recommend the standard Wave petunia. This is the low-growing petunia that spreads out the most. It’s a good choice for beds because if one plant dies, its neighbors will fill in the hole to keep the entire bed looking good. For a guaranteed homerun hit, we recommend purple as the primary selection and pink as the second choice. Both colors are electric, easy to see from a distance, and widely popular.

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When petunias are first planted, keep them irrigated and moist—not wet, but moist—so they can root out into the surrounding soil. Once the plants have become established, they don’t need nearly as much water as you might think they need; they actually hate wet feet. There is a common misunderstanding about petunias being thirsty, so they get overwatered and the plants rot out in the bed.

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It’s important to return to a site a few weeks afterward and reset the irrigation clock to half as much water as before. There is an establishment phase for petunias during which plants need to be consistently watered. Once the petunias are established, watering must be reduced. The establishment phase lasts about two to three weeks, depending on how hot and dry the weather has been.

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Another major use of petunias is in the large containers and planters that are commonly found on business properties. Restaurants, hotels and corporate courtyards often have large, super-sized urns, doorway planters, or sidewalk gardens that are built-up from the ground. You’ll find them near entrances or along high-traffic areas.

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Use Easy Wave petunias for these planter gardens. Easy Waves get large and full but they won’t crowd out anything else placed with them. The standard Waves and Tidal Waves will get too big—and yes, there is such a thing as too big. If the petunias overgrow their containers, they will spill out into the walkway or in front of the door where they will be trampled. For containers, just right is the appropriate size. To add a little flair, put a dracaena spike in the center of the garden and some sweet potato vine (ipomoea) along the edges. This simple design acts like a little black dress or classic blue blazer: always in style for any occasion.

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Petunias also lend themselves to commercial accounts via the use of 8-inch pots and hanging baskets as color highlights. The 8-inch material fits into decorative pots nicely and can be placed on outdoor tables, decks or patios. Hanging baskets can be tucked into eaves and porch roofs or hung on shepherd’s hooks out in the front or perhaps in the back where guests might congregate. This is an easy service to provide and the hit of color makes a property more inviting without a lot of effort.

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Whether you are new or experienced in landscaping, it doesn’t hurt to re-evaluate your billing opportunities over the summer. We offer a continuous supply of petunias, grown fresh all summer long, just for this purpose. If you need advice on their use or cultivation, or even on a design, just ask us over the phone or stop by the office. We have a wide selection of colors, sizes and types of petunias and we can guide you to the ones most likely to succeed in your project.

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Diefenbacher Greenhouses is a supplier of annuals and creative green goods. We sell directly to Garden Centers and Landscapers in the Cincinnati Area. 

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