Garden Tips: New petunias coming soon

Marianne Ophardt, For the Tri-City HeraldSeptember 27, 2013 

Some of you may know that I rave about the super performance of the Wave line of petunias. The Waves still are great, but there are many more petunias that could match and maybe even surpass them.

I am enthralled by the mini-petunias, also known as milliflora petunias. These are petunias with small, petite flowers about 1.5 inches in diameter. I tried two of Proven Winners' Charm series of mini-petunias in my containers this year. I was astounded at the mass of color these little charmers provided. Pink Charm grows 10 inches tall with a trailing habit up to 48 inches long. The soft pink flowers have white throats and cover the plants with a mass of color. The Charm series is heat and drought tolerant and also includes Sangria Charm with rosy purple flowers, Indigo Charm with purple flowers, and Watermelon Charm with red flowers.

New this year to the Proven Winners' Supertunia line is Picasso In Pink, joining Pretty Much Picasso already on the market. Both these petunias have a striking chartreuse edge around the flowers, but the new Picasso in Pink is more compact and less vigorous with a more mounded habit.

The Picassos aren't the only line of petunias with green-edged flowers. Just coming on the market is the Kermit series from Westflowers. This line includes Baby, Piggy and Rose with unique pink and green flowers. They are touted as being abundantly floriferous and weather tolerant.

The Kermit petunias were bred by a German breeder who also has developed a line of petunias called Crazytunias. One of these is Black Mamba, a black petunia that is said to be one of the best black petunias available because the flowers don't fade or develop stripes. Another Crazytunia is Cherry Cheesecake with an intense red and white candy cane star patterned flower.

It took a while for plant breeders to come up with some truly nice yellow petunias, but what about orange? Danziger just might have it with their Cascadias Indian Summer. It's a vigorous semi-trailing petunia with blooms that open to yellow and then turn to a peachy orange.

First new colors and sizes in petunias and now there is a new shape too! Sparklers, the first star-shaped petunias, were introduced by Thompson & Morgan. They recently introduced 'Sparkler Mixed' with star-shaped flowers with pointed petals and leaves. This mix contains flowers in pastel and jewel toned pinks and purple. The plants have a 12-inch tall mounding habit and a spread of 14 inches.

-- Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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