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The information presented on this page was originally released on January 9, 1997. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
New Petunias Yield Best-Ever Colors
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Winter seems like an odd time to mention waves and surfing, but two new petunias will have you humming Beach Boys music at your local garden center this spring.
Petunias have come a long way in the past couple of years. Two of the newest varieties -- Surfinia and Purple Wave -- will delight you in how they perform.
Surfinia was a great new plant on the market last year. Surfinias are trailing, fast-growing, vegetatively propagated petunias. They are good as a spreading, low-growing ground cover, or suitable as a cascading plant in window boxes, patio planters or hanging baskets. Surfinias are most spectacular planted in hanging baskets with blooms cascading 3 to 4 feet long.
These disease-resistant plants bloom profusely into the summer, are easy to grow and maintain, hold up to rain better than most petunias and are suitable for all hardiness zones.
Five varieties were available last year:
Surfinia Blue Vein, which has a white blossom tinted with lavender and brightly veined in purple on compact trailing foliage;
Surfinia Pink Vein has deep pink flowers with bright fuchsia veining on compact trailing foliage;
Surfinia Blue, with deep blue flowers on vigorous trailing foliage;
Surfinia Purple, with reddish-purple cascading blooms on vigorous foliage; and
Surfinia White has cream-white blossoms with dark purplish centers on compact foliage.
Be on the lookout next spring for Surfinias. These are among the toughest, long living petunias we can grow. Try them in combination with taller growing flowers like melampodiums, lantanas and marigolds, as well as ornamental grasses. You will want to plant on 24-inch centers. They are sure to spread and fill up your bed with riotous color.
Purple Wave is another hot petunia for your landscape. They will look like a rose-colored carpet when you plant them. It is the most vigorous petunia on the market today, with so many flowers per square foot you can hardly see the foliage.
We have watched Purple Wave at our experiment station in Crystal Springs, and it is a true winner. I have planted it at my house, and it has bloomed far longer than other petunias. A summer annual, it is extremely heat tolerant and bounces back with vigor after extended periods of wet weather.
A single plant will cover 4 square feet by mid-season. When planted in full sun, it forms a dense mat about 6 inches high. It does not get leggy like other petunias late in the season.
The flower color of Purple Wave petunia is not a true purple, but rose-purple with a velvet sheen. Each flower stays in bloom several days, then fades away as it is replaced by another one, providing continuous waves of color from spring until frost.
Plant on well-drained soils mixed as necessary with composted organic materials, such as composted bark or aged animal manure. Incorporate a 10-10-10 fertilizer into the planting bed at a rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet. Apply a liquid fertilizer such as 15-30-15, and prune as necessary to keep the plant from overgrowing the area.
The Purple Wave and Surfinias are petunias that you really must try in 1997. Look for them in the spring in your local garden center.