Petunias are indispensable for the container garden. Gay and colorful, easy to grow, free-flowering, available in a variety of types, and generally free of problems, they are really a wonderful annual. If you have space for but one flowering plant, by all means choose petunias. Grow them from seed or buy young seedlings in flats in spring. Either way, you will have quick, satisfying results.
The merits of petunias are worth elaborating, though they are well known. If it is bright splashes of color you want, red, pink, and rose petunias are the answer. Yet they come in blues and purples, as well as pure white, with some varieties producing individual blooms that are several inches across. The flowering period is always a long one, and plants that start blooming in May will continue into September and October, even into November. In the warmest areas of the country, they are grown for
winter bloom. Other annuals look tired at the end of the season, but not petunias. In the autumn, they hold their own with the chrysanthemums. Even if you do not keep snipping off old blossoms and seed pods, a job really worth doing, plants will continue their exuberant performance.
Adaptability to many situations has made the petunia a popular summer flower everywhere. Luxuriating in full sun, it will bloom freely if given sun for a few hours a day and will also tolerate partial shade. Not fussy about soil, petunia will flourish in poor soil. It is also one of the few annuals that will flower satisfactorily in soil too rich for other kinds.
In recent years, breeders have developed useful types-balcony petunias for window boxes, as well as forms that are single, frilled, or double. The extensive color range includes red, rose, pink, salmon, blue, lavender, purple, pale yellow and white.
Types of Petunias
Petunias are divided into several groups, including singles and doubles and according to growth habit, type of bloom, and use. Outstanding for their vigor, florifer-ousness, and uniformity of growth are the multiflora hybrids-the red Comanche, rosy-salmon Linda, salmon Silver Medal, white Paleface, and red-and-white-striped
Glitters. Equally remarkable are the grandiflora fringed hybrids like deep salmon Ballerina, salmon-pink May-time, deep scarlet-salmon Tango, rose-pink-on-white Crusades, and the white but yellow throated La Paloma.
Doubles include such favorites as the rose-with-white Gaiety, scarlet Allegro, rose-pink Caprice, scarlet Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, rosy purple Rhapsody, and white Sonata. In large boxes, where bedding effects are desired, grow the nana compacta, or dwarf compact petunias. The bright blue Admiral, deep salmon Cheerful, red Fire-chief, pink Rosy Morn and the yellow-throated White Perfection are some in this classification.