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Petunia Petunia x hybrida

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
peh-TEWN-ya HYE-brid-ah
Description

Garden petunia is a tender perennial in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). Its hardiness zones range from 10a to 11b, which results in it being an annual in North Carolina gardens. Petunia’s genus name is derived from the Brazilian name for tobacco.   

Seeds can be sown in January to March under glass as they require a germination temperature of 72 to 75 degrees F, but many people purchase plants or plugs from local nurseries. Pinching purchased plants back before transplanting them will help them maintain a bushy habit. Plant in full sun to partial shade and in light and well-drained soils. While it can survive in heavy shade, the blooms will suffer. Deadheading provides optimal performance and increased flower bud production. Leggy plants should be pinched back. Plants may be overwintered indoors in a bright location away from heated air. This plant has moderate drought tolerance. It can tolerate poor soils as long as they have good drainage. Depending on the hybrid, petunias require 1 to 3 feet of space in the garden.

This low to medium maintenance plant comes with a wide range of flower colors including variegated. Petunias bloom continuously throughout the summer until frost and is one of the most popular bedding plants. Hundreds of cultivars have been developed. The major groupings of hybrid petunias are:

  • Cascading hybrids: Cascading stems best for hanging baskets or ground covers.

  • Grandiflora hybrids: Large showy flowers up to 4 inches wide.

  • Multiflora hybrids: Smaller flowers 2 inches wide but more abundant than Grandiflora.

  • Milliflora hybrids: The newest group are miniature plants with small but abundant blooms. 

Plant in mass in beds and border fronts; along the edges of patios and hardscapes; in containers, hanging baskets or window boxes; or in interior sunrooms in the winter, depending on the hybrid. Include them also in butterfly and pollinator gardens as the flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators. This plant is seldom damaged by deer. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Funnelform flowers.

  • Anthers yellow.

  • Decumbent herb with sticky pubescence.

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  Aphids, flea beetles, slugs and snails are insect problems. Root rot, gray mold and tobacco mosaic virus are disease problems. Some cultivars have shown poor resistance to phytophthora root rot or stem rot. See Phytophthora Root and Crown Rot in the Landscape.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Annuals, Perennials, Vines, and Groundcovers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Davidson County Extension Demonstration Garden Deck Garden Herb & Flower Cottage Garden Container Gardens
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Avalanche® Group
    Trailing plants available in many colors
  • Celebrity Series
    Large flowers, heat and humidity tolerant, mounding habit, many colors available
  • Crazytunia®
    Mounding habit, bicolored flowers
  • Daddy® Series
    Ruffed petals with contrasting veins
  • Debonair™ series
    Mounding and spreading, wet soil tolerant, available in many colors
  • Double Cascade Series
    Double blooms in many colors
  • Dreams™ Group
    Upright, mounding habit up to 15" tall. and 10" wide
  • Eagle Group
    Early flowering, compact form, large 2.4 inch flowers
  • Easy Wave®
    Heat tolerant, mounding and spreading.
  • FlashForward™ Series
    Early blooming minature plants
  • Flash Mob Series
    Trailing habit, spreading up to 24" wide.
  • Frost™ Series
    White edged petals in many colors
  • Hurrah™ Series
    Heat and humidity tolerant, 10-12" tall, large flowers
  • Madness® Group
    Long bloom period. Mounding to upright habit. Poor resistance to phytophthora
  • Main Stage™ Series
    Trailing habit. Poor resistance to phytophthora root rot or stem rot.
  • Mambo Series
    Dwarf multiflora petunia with large flowers in many colors
  • Opera Supreme™
    Trailing plants in various colors, some multicolored.
  • Sanguna® Group
    Quick growing, early blooming, mounding and trailing. Many colors available
  • Shock Wave® Group
    Mounding trailing habit. Early blooms are smaller and available in many colors
  • SuperCal®
    Heat tolerant, long bloom season, part petunia, part calibrachoa
  • Supercascade Series
    15" tall, large 4.5 inch flowers in many colors
  • Supertunia® Group
    Many colors available. Vigorous plants with mounding trailing habit
  • Supertunia Vista® Group
    Mounding to 2 feet and trailing habit. Vigorous, mediums sized flowers an many colors
  • SureShot™
    Mounding spreading habit, 6 colors available
  • Sweetunia® Group
    Full mounding habit, brightly colored and uniquely patterned blooms
  • Trilogy® Group
    dome habit, prolific flowers on compact spreading plants
  • Wave® Group
    Low growing, spreading variety, many colors available
  • Whispers™ Series
    Dense spreading habit, early blooms, many colors available
Avalanche® Group, Celebrity Series, Crazytunia®, Daddy® Series, Debonair™ series, Double Cascade Series, Dreams™ Group, Eagle Group, Easy Wave®, FlashForward™ Series, Flash Mob Series, Frost™ Series, Hurrah™ Series, Madness® Group, Main Stage™ Series, Mambo Series, Opera Supreme™, Sanguna® Group, Shock Wave® Group, SuperCal®, Supercascade Series, Supertunia® Group, Supertunia Vista® Group, SureShot™, Sweetunia® Group, Trilogy® Group, Wave® Group, Whispers™ Series
Tags:
#purple#hummingbird friendly#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#houseplant#drought tolerant#white flowers#easy to grow#fragrant leaves#nectar plant#interiorscape#apvg#hanging baskets#window boxes#edging#summer flowers#deer resistant#long bloom time#border planting#bedding plants#hairy leaves#spring interest#pollinator plant#fantz#flowers midsummer#poor soils tolerant#flowers early summer#flowers late summer#butterfly friendly#flowers early fall#apvg-a#partial shade tolerant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#stormwater demo garden orange co#container plant#annual#landscape plant sleuths course#wildlife friendly#cpp
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Avalanche® Group
    Trailing plants available in many colors
  • Celebrity Series
    Large flowers, heat and humidity tolerant, mounding habit, many colors available
  • Crazytunia®
    Mounding habit, bicolored flowers
  • Daddy® Series
    Ruffed petals with contrasting veins
  • Debonair™ series
    Mounding and spreading, wet soil tolerant, available in many colors
  • Double Cascade Series
    Double blooms in many colors
  • Dreams™ Group
    Upright, mounding habit up to 15" tall. and 10" wide
  • Eagle Group
    Early flowering, compact form, large 2.4 inch flowers
  • Easy Wave®
    Heat tolerant, mounding and spreading.
  • FlashForward™ Series
    Early blooming minature plants
  • Flash Mob Series
    Trailing habit, spreading up to 24" wide.
  • Frost™ Series
    White edged petals in many colors
  • Hurrah™ Series
    Heat and humidity tolerant, 10-12" tall, large flowers
  • Madness® Group
    Long bloom period. Mounding to upright habit. Poor resistance to phytophthora
  • Main Stage™ Series
    Trailing habit. Poor resistance to phytophthora root rot or stem rot.
  • Mambo Series
    Dwarf multiflora petunia with large flowers in many colors
  • Opera Supreme™
    Trailing plants in various colors, some multicolored.
  • Sanguna® Group
    Quick growing, early blooming, mounding and trailing. Many colors available
  • Shock Wave® Group
    Mounding trailing habit. Early blooms are smaller and available in many colors
  • SuperCal®
    Heat tolerant, long bloom season, part petunia, part calibrachoa
  • Supercascade Series
    15" tall, large 4.5 inch flowers in many colors
  • Supertunia® Group
    Many colors available. Vigorous plants with mounding trailing habit
  • Supertunia Vista® Group
    Mounding to 2 feet and trailing habit. Vigorous, mediums sized flowers an many colors
  • SureShot™
    Mounding spreading habit, 6 colors available
  • Sweetunia® Group
    Full mounding habit, brightly colored and uniquely patterned blooms
  • Trilogy® Group
    dome habit, prolific flowers on compact spreading plants
  • Wave® Group
    Low growing, spreading variety, many colors available
  • Whispers™ Series
    Dense spreading habit, early blooms, many colors available
Avalanche® Group, Celebrity Series, Crazytunia®, Daddy® Series, Debonair™ series, Double Cascade Series, Dreams™ Group, Eagle Group, Easy Wave®, FlashForward™ Series, Flash Mob Series, Frost™ Series, Hurrah™ Series, Madness® Group, Main Stage™ Series, Mambo Series, Opera Supreme™, Sanguna® Group, Shock Wave® Group, SuperCal®, Supercascade Series, Supertunia® Group, Supertunia Vista® Group, SureShot™, Sweetunia® Group, Trilogy® Group, Wave® Group, Whispers™ Series
Tags:
#purple#hummingbird friendly#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#houseplant#drought tolerant#white flowers#easy to grow#fragrant leaves#nectar plant#interiorscape#apvg#hanging baskets#window boxes#edging#summer flowers#deer resistant#long bloom time#border planting#bedding plants#hairy leaves#spring interest#pollinator plant#fantz#flowers midsummer#poor soils tolerant#flowers early summer#flowers late summer#butterfly friendly#flowers early fall#apvg-a#partial shade tolerant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#stormwater demo garden orange co#container plant#annual#landscape plant sleuths course#wildlife friendly#cpp
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Petunia
    Family:
    Solanaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Ground Cover
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Houseplant
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Horizontal
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Variegated
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Funnel
    Flower Description:
    Fragrant funnel-shaped flowers come in all colors including variegated except brown and black and can be single or doubles. They are solitary flowers in upper leaf axils and pedicillate. Calyx is cylindric, 5-lobed, and lobes are about 1/3 of the length. Corolla is funnelform, single to double, anthrocyanin-pigmented, and rarely striped. Anthers are yellow.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Description:
    Fragrant leaves are simple, sessile, alternate to sub-opposite above, ovate, and pubescent.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Stems are decumbent, viscid-pubescent, spreading lateral and creeping from underground stem forming an irregular carpet over the ground, upturning terminally. Lateral stems are sub erect.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Hanging Baskets
    Houseplants
    Patio
    Pool/Hardscape
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Fairy Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Poor Soil