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Annuals/wave petunia


QUESTION: Dear Long Island Gardener,
What happens if I have rooting wave petunia,  wheter the plant will show poor performance or any problem?

ANSWER: I hope I understand you correctly, Hoa - I am guessing you would like to know what types of problems are encountered by people growing Wave Petunias. As with all Petunias, Waves -- undoubtedly the most floriferous of the hybids on the market to date -- thrive on NEGLECT.  When people have trouble with these plants, it's almost always a case of too much of a good thing.

Petunias as a species are made for overworked and underexperienced gardeners.  They are inexpensive.  They grow like a house on fire.  They bloom spring to late fall and even into winter in some areas.  The flowers are bright, vivid and sweep you off your feet from hundreds of feet away.  They are almost the perfect plant.

They are however not perfect. They are living things and they need what they need, which is lots and lots and lots of light - that is,INCREDIBLE amounts of sun are absolutely necessary to make those flower molecules and turn light into petals.

It's the other stuff that people give them where they start to run into trouble.  Beginning gardeners are especially inclined to make this mistake.  Beginners fertilize, water and spray as they admire the fruits of their labor.  Then the fruits start to die, so they do more fertilizer, more water, more and more, until they kill these plants they love too much!

Yes, newly planted baby Petunias need water to establish a strong root system.  But they do not need fertilizer.  They do not need rich soil.  They do not need your constant and undying devotion to grow strong, happy, and dazzling.  They need their space.  They need, like teenage kids, to be left alone to do their own thing.

Less is more when it comes to Waves.

Anything else is a waste at best or lethal at worst.

Let there be light and God will grow these for you.  Peace,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Long Island Gardener,

sorry about my unclearly question, i mean i want to propagate wave petunia by cutting, i know it's prohibited but i just want to try at home.  In case I use cutting, whether will the plant show me poor performance or uneven in plant uniformity or flower size problem....

another question - i live in where the climate is extremely hot,i heard that - the higher the temp, the taller plant and fewer lateral branching with single flower. So, should i grow petunia in here? what should i concern if growing wave petunia in here?


I apologize for the tardiness of this answer, Hoa - I thought it was the one I had answered.

First, I can tell you that taking cuttings of Waves is illegal. I hate to say something like that. I mean, gardeners are not as a group a mob looking to commit felonies. But under U.S. law, because it is a protected hybrid, it is -- technically -- therefore illegal to make more of them at home.

Do people do that? Who would know? Would you even succeed in getting the cuttings to root? That, I don't know. But it is no matter how you cut it against the law. And it will be until the patent runs out, years from now.  Any form of propagation of a Wave Petunia is in that category.  Purely legal answer.  Also, note that this applies to people subject to U.S. law or to countries that recognize a patent as protective of unauthorized propagation.  Depending on where you are, and what your country has agreed to do in regard to respecting the rights of people to grow what they want, you may not even NEED to worry about this.

As for your second question, this is one I love to answer.  Pure chemistry, my favorite subject.

Dr. Raymond Kessler of Auburn University studied various Petunia predilictions with his essay on "Petunia: Commercial Greenhouse Production":

Dr. Kessler points out that for Petunias, flowering, plant height and lateral branching correspond with cultivation in what he refers to as an "average" temperature range, which in Dr. Kessler's study meant 50 to 77 degrees F.  But "higher" temperatures produce quicker blooms on taller plants, and no lateral branches.

Perhaps you simply need a better, more heat-tolerant hybrid:

"Surfinia Petunias: Production Secrets" appeared in 2012 in Greenhouse Grower magazine, which fully endorsed this hybrid: "More than 20 years later, Surfinias are still No. 1 in the world."

"Surfinia" trialing Petunias were a cross between wild Ruellia humilis and the common Petunia.  The goal of Suntory, the Japanese company that invented this product, was to produce a plant with profuse, weather-proof flowers. You know how Petunia petals become water-spotted after a downpour?  Thicker Surfinias petals with substance solved that problem.

Surfinias and "Wave" Petunias share a low, aggressive, spreading habit. Instead, these hybrids capitalized on that habit by transforming the Petunia into a groundcover. Wave was developed in Japan around 1995. Their characteristics include heat tolerance and extreme vigor.

But Surfinias are even MORE heat-tolerant.  

What Wave has accomplished with its commanding U.S. market share, Surfinia has accomplished in Europe. Greenhousegrower can't stop swooning about Surfinia, a hybrid which they say:

"took the place of ivy geraniums on balconies in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, whereas before no other plant tolerated the extreme conditions of summer heat and heavy rain. It just looked fantastic hanging down in window boxes and baskets and it went on and on performing."

Greenhousegrower also pointed to yet another friendly feature of Surfinia: This hybrid "is a dream to root 3-4 weeks max on a bench."  This is vital to the plant's success because seed-sterile Surfinias can be grown ONLY FROM CUTTINGS -- unlike Wave.

The editors at Greenhouse Grower recommend as companions "Million Bells" Calibrachoas, Desana ipomoeas, and Temari verbenas.

The basic rules of thumb continue to apply.  Don't over-water.  Provide full sun exposure.  And fertilizing must be done cautiously, preferably with a low nutrient organic fertilizer that does not ask for the impossible.  Thanks for writing,  


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Long Island Gardener


Decisions, decisions... If you can't make up your mind which Annuals to grow, you're not alone. Problem with your new flowering Annuals flats? I`ve been there, done that. Petunias, Sweet Alyssum, Larkspur, Marine Blue Lobelia -- they all grow here at my house on Garden Street on Long Island, N.Y.. Cutting and Cottage Gardens, Sun and Shade Gardens, White Gardens and Night Gardens, I`ve done them all. Annuals are the perfect summer flower, bursting with color June through fall's first frost. I can`t speak on Cactus or tender Tropical Plants -- they don`t grow outside in my Zone 7. I`m no Farmer, so I cannot guide you on Fruits and Vegetables. But whether it`s an Annual you want to start from seed, mail-order or pick up at your local garden center, I can help you grow amazing blooms this Summer. Yes, together, we can turn your neighbors green with envy.


I have a lifetime of gardening behind me here on the North Shore of Long Island. While I have degrees in related fields, there's nothing like hands-on work to build real knowledge. I stay on top of current science -- there's a boom in research, and Kingdom Plantae is filled with surprises. By the way, I really do live on Garden Street.

Gannett newspapers, The New York Times, and hundreds of others - but not on Annuals.

B.A., botany; graduate credits in European Intellectual History and Political Science; minor coursework in related fields, docent training at our local botanical gardens (required for volunteers). I'm currently working on an advanced biochemistry degree.

Awards and Honors
I could tell you, but then you'd know who I am.

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