Richland Gardens: Spreading, trailing, and mounding petunias

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GREENVILLE—It is hard to exceed the beauty of todays petunias that have been developed to spread, trail and mound. These beautiful plants come in an incredible number of colors and are produced by several competing plant companies.

The one that has become the most recognized is the Bubble Gum petunia produced by Proven Winner. While this petunia has become the most widely known it is not the only petunia that spreads, trails and mounds or that can provide an incredible display of color.

Did you know that proven winner offers other colors besides the pink Bubble Gum? Did you know that Proven Selections also offers a line of petunias known as the Color Rush petunias? Could you possibly have forgotten the beautiful wave petunias that were developed in the mid-1990’s? Besides these there are many others with unique colors that would be able to brighten your landscape or the entrance to your home. In fact, the variety of color offered by all of them are staggering.

We try to offer a good variety that includes some of the Wave Petunias, the Proven Selection varieties, and also some offered by Proven Winner. But that is not all that we offer as a trailing petunia. We also have a line of several colors of the mini trailing petunia known as the “Calibrachoa”. These also perform well in pots and I have seen them planted in the landscape where they created a fabulous display of color.

All of these petunias are easy to care for, they love the full sun, but will also perform well in areas with morning shade and afternoon sun.

Below are a few key care tips to help keep your petunias (and most other plants) strong and blooming beautifully from early spring right up until the first hard frost.

How close should I plant?

Petunias, as well as most other plants, need space to thrive. Overcrowding plants causes the roots to run out of space and become root-bound. It also encourages disease and mold to develop which leads to the loss of some or all of the plants before the growing season is over.

Many of the spreading, trailing, and mounding petunias require a lot of space. In the landscape they should be planted 16 – 24 inches apart to prevent disease problems, and depending on the pot size 1 to 3 plants will often fill out a pot nicely. A lot of people want their pots and landscape to look filled out instantly and will overcrowd the plants, but if you have patience and let a few plants do the job, they will give you more beauty with less care.

If potted plants start to outgrow their containers by mid-summer, you can re-plant them into larger containers to keep them going. Use a good quality, well-draining potting soil mix, and select a container that is at least 25% larger than the current pot. This will allow enough space for the plant to finish out the year strong, and give you big blooms right up until the first frost of fall.

If your plants become too large for replanting into a container, don’t toss them away – just take them out of their pot and plant them directly into the flowerbeds in your landscape. It is amazing how quickly it can rejuvenate the entire plant – and add an instant splash of massive color to your flowerbeds.

How often should I water?

Watering is another important part of keeping your petunias healthy and blooming. The true secret to success for watering is keeping your plants hydrated, while also not saturating the root space by over-watering.

All plants, especially those in containers and baskets, require frequent watering to both survive and thrive. But the key is only watering plants when the moisture level is just beginning to fade. Too much water will lead to soggy roots and a weak plant, and a plant wilting from being too dry also has a bad outcome. If the pot or container is not too big, try picking it up to check if it needs to be watered (if it feels light but looks moist it needs water, if it is heavy, you may want to wait on watering). During the hot summer period you may need to water plants in containers and baskets 2 times a day, especially if they are in a very sunny place. A friend of mine says that “most plants are killed by not enough water or too much water”. Always be aware that water can be a plants friend or foe.

Should I fertilize my plants?

Light fertilizing every 10 to 14 days is recommended to help many plants maintain their beauty (take notice that the key word here is light). Smaller but more frequent doses are better at keeping a slow and steady supply of nutrients coming to the plant. And to keep petunias blooming constantly, fertilizing slow and steady works wonders. Too much fertilizer can cause excessive foliage growth, but very few blooms.

Should I deadhead my plants?

Unlike the old traditional petunias, most of the spreading, trailing, and mounding petunias, along with todays upright petunias, these plants don’t require the constant deadheading of their spent blooms or pinching the foliage back to keep them producing beautiful flowers. But they will perform better if you do maintain them. Those in pots and containers will greatly benefit from the tender loving care and will give you greater beauty.

When I was a young boy, we had a customer (Dorie Baltes, she also brought us some of the best home-made cookies) that would buy the traditional petunias by the flat, she would plant them in large pots, and in the flower beds around her house and restaurant. You could not find more beautiful plants anywhere. One day I asked her what she did to maintain such beautiful petunias, and she said that she and her husband would trim (this was accomplished by shaving with them with hedge trimmers) all the blooms off on

Monday morning and by the weekend they would be covered with a mass of blooms again.

Trimming (or shaving) will help your petunias produce more shoots with more blooms and it will also help you maintain a nice, neat looking plant.

Here’s to keeping your plants growing and blooming beautifully all summer long! And as you enjoy the beautiful blooms remember to praise the Creator that makes all things beautiful in His time.

May God bless each of you.

Richland Gardens was started by Hollis and Charlotte Flora in early 1960’s. And is currently owned operated by their son Edward Flora and his wife Karen. The greenhouse is located at 6914 US Route 36, Greenville, Ohio. Call 937-548-1577 for more information, you may also check out their Website at www.richlandgardens.net or go to their Facebook Page.