Allen D. Owings | 10/11/2008 1:44:00 AM
Petunias are one of the best-performing plants in the spring landscape, but for top-notch performance they should be planted in fall, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings.
“October is the perfect month for planting,” Owings said, explaining, “Petunias planted in spring will not perform as well.”
The horticulturist says the petunia that is all the rage these days is the Wave series and related groups.
Petunia popularity has risen in recent years because of the release of a number of new varieties. These new varieties, for the most part, are propagated by seed and are spreading plants, as opposed to the upright plants of older varieties.
Wave petunias are available in several colors – purple, pink, rose, misty lilac, lavender and blue.
“Pink, rose, misty lilac and lavender are the best of these six, although purple was named an All-America Selection winner back in 1996,” Owings said. Wave petunias grow 24-30 inches wide and 8-10 inches high.
Cousins of the Wave are the Easy Wave and Tidal Wave. Easy Wave comes in a few more colors than Wave, with options of pink, blue, rosy dawn, salmon, white, red, shell pink and coral reef. They fit better into containers and have a better growth habit for hanging baskets, he said.
Tidal Waves are just as their name implies – the largest of the Waves. They come in cherry, pink, silver and purple and can be 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. They are referred to as hedgiflora plants because they grow like a hedge, Owings explained.
Petunias need full sun and a well-drained bed. They prefer slightly acid soil. Fertilize at planting time and irrigate to aid establishment and when rainfall is lacking for a week to 10 days. Normally, petunias peak in April through early May. Usually, the heat of June and July leads to their downfall.
“LSU AgCenter research at the Hammond Research Station and Burden Center in Baton Rouge has demonstrated the Wave, Easy Wave and Tidal Wave to be excellent varieties for South Louisiana,” Owings said.
The most recent variety to be evaluated is Shock Wave – new for 2008. It is the smallest-growing of the Wave series and has the smallest flowers.