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Perennial Petunia ?

March 4, 2010

March has only just begun. Nothing has started blooming outdoors. We’re still getting snow in Connecticut. So, summer flowers of any kind are a joy to see.

petunia

I always thought petunias were annuals. They start from seeds in spring, grow, bloom, set seed, then die. The next spring, they begin again as seeds. A year ago, I planted seeds indoors for wave petunias. Throughout the summer, they didn’t do much and were pretty disappointing. I had them in baskets, hanging from the trellis/arbor in the vegetable garden. Towards the end of summer, I found tiny seedlings growing in the basket. Warm weather stayed with us into December, which was pretty unusual.

Since the seeds I had started in March took so long to start doing anything, I brought the whole basket inside for the winter. I figured I had nothing to lose. If they died, they died. If I could keep them alive, maybe they’d have a head start in spring and actually amount to something. The babies are not much more than babies, still. I’ve been experimenting with pinching to produce fullness. They’re not full yet, at all, and the main stem is only several inches long.

Here’s the odd part. The main plant still had green stems when I brought it in. Not wanting to kill it outright, I just pinched off all the dying stems. It has continued to grow. Keep in mind here that it had already set seed and reproduced. I’ve had the basket hanging on my seed starting shelf with grow lights. As the stems have grown too tall, I just pinched them off, rather carelessly since I thought I expected it to just die anyway. It’s kept growing and branching out. The shape isn’t wonderful. It has long stems that become full near the ends, kinda funny looking. Now, it’s flowering.

As a new gardener, it’s difficult to pinch and prune babies. I’ve been getting quite an education with this plant. So much so that I have newly sown petunia seeds just sprouting. I plan to do more pinching when they are still fairly short. Hopefully, I’ll learn how to encourage the nicely shaped bushy plants. The other thing that will be different this time around is their feeding. Last year, I used potting soil from the store or a home-made blend with finished compost from the outdoor pile. This year, I have finished vermicompost. I’ve used it in creating my seed starting mix and watering. This year’s seedlings already look much happier, and the season has barely gotten started.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2010 12:17 pm

    Yes, most petunias are perennials — actually a LOT of the plants sold as “annuals” (impatiens, petunias, pentas, salvia — even tomatoes and peppers) are actually just winter-tender perennials.

  2. March 4, 2010 1:30 pm

    Hello, I found that out the same way a couple of years ago just dragging one in to see what it would do and was glad to see it bloom indoors. It is fun to see what plants will keep and nothing is lost if it doesn’t make it.

  3. March 4, 2010 3:49 pm

    It looks like you will have lots of pretty petunias this year. They must like the indoor environment they were growing in. I like the color!

  4. March 4, 2010 11:52 pm

    Well, I’ve learnt something! I’ve never tried growing petunias, but always thought of them as annuals. I like the shade of this one , but I tend to fall for anything in a purple shade :)

  5. March 5, 2010 12:39 am

    I’m an old gardener and I still don’t like to pinch even though I know it is good to do. What a great way to discover that Petunias are perennials – the flower is just lovely :^)

  6. March 6, 2010 10:52 pm

    Nothing hs started blooming outdoors? That’s what I thought. I’m here in Connecticut, too, and my snowdrops are up! It’s so exciting!

    • Kate permalink*
      March 15, 2010 10:56 am

      I might have to get some snowdrops, and hellebores, too. They bloom earlier than anything I’ve got.

  7. March 9, 2010 9:27 pm

    I used to not be a fan of petunias. But slowly, I have been won over. The scent is absolutely wonderful! And they go for so long, if you pinch :D

  8. March 12, 2010 3:10 pm

    This is where online shopping for seeds and plugs comes in handy!

  9. March 26, 2010 9:19 am

    These are so pretty! Oh, how I can’t wait for color!

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