Flower Tales-Petunia


Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful:  they are sunshine, food, and medicine to the soul.  ~Luther Burbank 



I just love the tried and true annual tender perennial* flowers that bloom happily in late spring and all summer into fall.  While they seem to be common to many folks, I find them charming.  And I want to profile these beautiful old flowers this winter.  

Nepalese police dog unitIn my first post last month, I profiled the marigold.  It was great to hear from readers about how many love the marigold.  And many were fascinated by the history and folklore.

Susan@Life.Change.Compost was one commenter who had personal history observing the use of marigolds in ceremonies in Nepal.  Aren’t these dogs gorgeous as they are decorated for a special ceremony honoring the dogs.  Thanks Susie for allowing me to use this stunning photo of these Nepalese police dogs.  And please visit Susie at her blog.  I told you I would be sharing the blog love more.

This month I am profiling the petunia.  I have always loved these flowers, especially the old-fashioned types that have lovely colors.  I try to grow them from seed now, and I make sure I have some in containers on my front porch especially a purple variety for my antique planters.

As I write this month’s flower tale, I am linking in for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (GBBD) hosted by Carol@May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of each month.  And I am also linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.





PIMG_6452etunias hail from South America, and are closely related to tobacco, tomatoes, deadly nightshades, potatoes and chili peppers; all in the family Solanaceae. This flower has about 35 species, and gets its name originally from the Brazilian word petun, meaning “tobacco.  Most of the varieties, of this annual, are hybrids.

Petunias were discovered in the early part of the 17th century by explorers, who brought them back to Europe. Marigolds started to gain in popularity in European gardens when news spread after James Tweedie sent samples of the flowers to the Glasgow Botanical Center in 1831. 




Growing Conditions

The original funnel-shape of the flowers has been modified a bit with newer hybrids sporting fringed margins, double petals and unusual color patterns with some almost black in color and even bright green.  Petunias prefer full sun but will grow in part shade conditions as long as they get at least 5 hours of sunlight.  These tender perennial plants are only hardy from Zones 9 to 11 which is why most of us grow them as annuals.  *Thanks Christina for pointing out that really these are not annual flowers, but we treat them as such.IMG_4875

One thing that is essential for these plants to grow is hot weather and frequent watering in well-drained soil (as they do not like wet feet).  They can withstand a bit of dry weather, but too much water can cause the plant to become ‘leggy’ with less flowers.  

I wait until the soil is warm and all threat of frost is gone before I plant mine out in late spring.  They are said to put out their maximum growth in late spring, but here it is more like summer when I see the growth spurt due to our cooler spring.  To keep the plant flowering all season, monthly feeding is needed.  I use a good organic fertilizer.

When planting in containers, it is helpful to pinch the plants back to encourage more branching.  Deadheading is not necessary especially with newer varieties (although recommended with container plants), but the older varieties do require a bit more deadheading.  If the plant stops flowering in summer, I do cut it back a bit to refresh the plant.

Be forewarned that pinching or deadheading will make for sticky hands, but I love the scent when I do any pruning. 

IMG_7425Petunias generally don’t have many issues except they can get a bit bedraggled and their heads will flop if they are deluged by rain.  Some problems that can be found with petunias are:  Gray Mold which occurs when petunias are exposed to too much rain, and insects such as aphids or budworm caterpillar.

Petunias are very slow to germinate, and can be difficult to grow from seed.  It can take 10 to 12 weeks before they are ready for planting out.




Folklore and Tales

It is said that in the early 1500s, Spanish explorers found petunias growing near the coast of Argentina. This first petunia IMG_5648found was a trailing white flower that was not thought to be of great interest and was not sent back to Spain.

It was not until extensive hybridization began in the United States that the plant really became popular.

In Germany, petunias are known as “Mary’s Praises” and are viewed as uplifting flowers.  They are also said to be a common symbol of the Virgin Mary in Christianity.





IMG_5865Petunias are insect pollinated except for one species that is hummingbird-pollinated (P. exserta).  And the tubular flowers are a favorite of the Lepidoptera species, including the Hummingbird hawk moth.  I have also found many hummers visiting my petunias all summer.

These flowers are used as bedding plants (multiflora) and container flowers (Grandiflora and multiflora).  I especially love how petunias look in hanging baskets especially mixed with other flowers.

And milliflora (miniature petunias), are perfect for borders, containers and beds.

I also have read petunias are a great flower in a floral arrangements so look for some in my vases next summer.

Petunias are also a favorite flower for me because they are deer resistant.




Language of Flowers

Petunias also have a rather fickle meaning.  They can represent Resentment or Anger.  But I much prefer the meaning of Your Presence Soothes Me as seeing these flowers makes me smile and linger to do a bit of deadheading.

petunia 2014 


Do you grow petunias?  If you do, do you prefer growing them from seed or buying the plants?



Blogging Love:

In the past 2 months, I was lucky enough to win a couple of garden prizes from some wonderful blogs and bloggers.  In early October, Kylee@Our Little Acre was giving away a $50 gift certificate from American Meadows, one of my favorite sites.  And lucky me, I won this prize (I really rarely win things).  Needless to say I was so happy as I planned to use it to order amaryllis HippeastrumDSCN7712 bulbs (they were having a half-priced sale) and some native meadow plant seed.

Then just before Thanksgiving, a few bloggers were part of an amaryllis (Hippeastrum) giveaway from Longfield Gardens.  And pinch me, I won an amaryllis Hippeastrum bulb from Dee@Red Dirt Ramblings.  But what I discovered when the box came in the mail, not only did I win an amaryllis Hippeastrum I actually won the gorgeous kit pictured here.  Two bulbs, lovely box, soil and moss.  Everything needed to plant the bulbs.  And I learned from Dee’s post how to stake my plants so they had support as they grow.

 So a great big thank you to Kylee and Dee as I send lots of blog love to both of you……


In A Vase On Monday


We just had a foot of snow this past week, and with it being so cold it is not melting.  I noticed many things in my garden recently that would make a fine winter vase prior to the snow coming, but they are buried under all that snow now.  So instead of saying ‘I can’t make a vase this week’, I decided to bundle up, go out in my boots, brush away the snow and dig out what I could find.

As I arrange this vase of interesting winter plant material, I am linking in with Pam@Digging for her Foliage Follow Up on the 16th, and with Cathy@Rambling in the Garden  who hosts this wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday.   I am also linking in with Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles.


So what did I find….. 


mid dec vase

I added some dried grasses, St. John’s wort still sporting autumn colors, boxwood, winterberries, rose hips, Scouringrush horsetail, willow branches and a branch from the forsythia with loads of buds. 




mid dec vase collage


What a festive late autumn bounty I found in my garden even if I did freeze my fingers.  I love the grasses this winter as they will provide lots of interest in my vases.  And I hope the willow and forsythia will bloom.  Wouldn’t that be a great treat.




mid dev vase 2

Here’s a last look at this week’s vase with a bit of fancy magic to make it look like there is sunlight glowing on it….it does brighten my gray days right now.  



I hope you will join me in my Seasonal Celebrations meme where we celebrate the new season coming soon to your part of the world.  


Just write a post between now and December 21st.   Leave a link with your comment on the kick-off post of Seasonal Celebrations-Winter Wonders. I will include your link in my summary post on December 22nd.  


I am collaborating with Beth@Plant Postings and her Lessons Learned meme at this same time.  What lessons have you learned this past season of summer here in the North and winter in the South.  Write a separate post or combine your lessons with your celebrations in one post.



Next up on the blog:  

I will have the follow up post for Seasonal Celebrations on Monday.  And then on the last Monday of the year, I will have a native plant profile to close out this year’s Simply The Best series.  

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her new blog just for Nature Notes.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday. 



I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

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