PETUNIA

Hybrids of this group of half-hardy perennials and annuals are almost always grown as annuals for their colourful and showy flowers. There are two main types: multiflora and grandiflora.

Suitable site and soil. Plant in a sunny, sheltered position in fertile yet light, well-drained soil. If grown in pots, plant in John Innes No.l in 13cm – 5in pots. Alternatively put in tubs, hanging baskets and window-box displays.

Cultivation and care. Plant out in late spring or early summer after they have been hardened off. Dead-head regularly to prolong flowering.

Propagation. Grow from seed sown under glass in early – mid spring at a temperature of 15°C – 59°F.

Recommended varieties. There is a large range of both types of petunia to choose from and all bear flowers profusely from early summer until stopped by a hard frost in autumn. Perhaps the best bedding plants are multiflora Fl hybrids sold in single and mixed colours; the ‘Resisto’ range is a good choice. Multiflora plants tend to be more weather resistant than the grandiflora type and have profuse blooms 5cm – 2in across. Grandillora Fl hybrids also give good displays in a bed or in a hanging basket or tub, producing larger blooms up to 13cm – 5in across; the ‘Daddy’ series is popular.

Pests and diseases. Watch out for aphids on growing plants and also for symptoms of viral diseases and cucumber mosaic virus.

CLEVER BOXING

There is almost nothing to beat a window box of petunias, in shades of pink, purple, red, white, blue or yellow; the flowers can be frilled, plain, striped and bordered. Plant 23cm – 9in apart for best results.

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