Progress in petunias

April 7th, 2017 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Petunia 'Buzz Purple', 'Amore Queen Of Hearts' and 'Night Sky'

We’ve come a long way since the first petunia was introduced to Britain from South America in 1823. A straggly, white-flowered species, Petunia axilliaris had one feature which has largely disappeared from today’s petunias: scent

Now, there are thousands of different varieties – some are intended to be raised from seed, but the best are now usually those raised from cuttings. Growing from cuttings allows plant breeders to develop petunias in a wide variety of plant habits from tall, almost climbing, types to bushy and trailing and ground covering varieties and just about every form in between – large flowered and small, single and double.

There are some extraordinary colours and colour combinations now available.

The colour pattern of ‘Amore Queen of Hearts’ (above centre) is astonishing and with a mass of blooms crowding the trailing but bushy growth it’s instantly appealing.

‘Night Sky’ (above right), in deep blue with white speckles like stars in the heavens, is also unique in its colouring with similar trailing but bushy growth.

‘Amore Queen of Hearts’ was developed in Israel, ‘Night Sky’ was developed in Italy. But two more newcomers in interesting and unexpected colours were developed in Cambridgeshire, not far from the Mr F headquarters.

All the varieties in the Designer Series are unusual in their colouring and the latest to be released are ‘Designer Buzz Purple’ (above left) and, one of my favourites, ‘Designer Ink Splash’ (below).

‘Designer Buzz Purple’ has vivid purple flowers with a neat network of dark veins, and the edge of each flower is picked out in clear and vivid green. It makes an impressive container plant and, I think, is best grown in a basket by itself, without companions.

‘Designer Ink Splash’ is deep violet blue with a gentle white star and a white rim. It’s kind of sultry and sparkling at the same time. This too makes a good specimen.

None of these new petunia varieties trails its stems in long streams as do so many of the Surfinia petunias, the first to be widely grown from cuttings. These four are trailing, but with such short stems between the leaves and flowers the plants are more compact and flowers open much closer together. The whole effect is neater and more colourful.

Oh, and if it’s scent you’re after, look no further than the Tumbelina Scented Falls Collection – also developed in Cambridgeshire.

Petunia 'Designer Inksplash'

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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