Petunias are my latest love.  Believe it or not, in my 85 years of gardening I have never had a petunia. They never interested me because they were so omni-present – in every hanging basket on every light pole, on the greens, in the parks.  They thrive and bloom and look lovely but they are everywhere!   However, when I was given some wooden hand-painted flower boxes I decided – well,  petunias might look nice in them.   I looked for petunia seeds in four stores that sell flower seeds. No petunias.  Of course the harder they were to find the more I wanted them.  In desperation I bought a flowering plant for $2.50 and put it in one box.  My daughter-in-law invited me to take some of the young petunia plants that spring up in her yard each spring so I put several of them in the other box.  Only a few weeks later, I had petunias in abundance  blooming in both boxes, mostly purple in one box, mostly red in the other.

Now, two months later, I fancy myself a petunia expert!  Petunias love full sun and have shallow roots so must be kept well-watered.  Mine are the multifloras with blooms about two inches across which are said to withstand wind and rain better than the larger grandifloras.  I can now say from experience that petunias can look rather tattered and torn after a heavy wind, and this year they actually had to deal with one hailstorm.

Petunias bloom all summer and into the fall.  At their peak the single $2.50 plant I mentioned above bore over 60 blooms at once, not counting the floppies and the buds.  At first I had a little trouble telling the spent flowers (they droop, so I call them floppies) from the buds which have a stiffer, somewhat pleated appearance.

This year I just removed the droopy blooms – which are a little sticky –  because I wanted lots of seeds so petunias would spring up all over the place next summer (hopefully).  I think next year I’ll dead-head them, pinching the flowers off a half-inch down the stem so that seeds do not form and the plant will produce more blooms, and perhaps bloom longer.

I read that petunias have a light cinnamon scent so I made a special trip to smell them en masse.  They do have a very faint smell, but I wouldn’t call it cinnamon.

Well, I did finally find one package of petunia seeds and planted them the end of July.  When the Bible says the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, I guess they hadn’t seen petunia seeds. They are the size the the period at the end of this sentence.  We are instructed not to cover them, as they need light to germinate.  I just made a line in the soil and pressed them down.  In two weeks there were seedlings and two weeks after that respectable little plants.  I will come back and let you know when and if they bud and bloom.

Because growing petunias from seed is not all that easy, I offer the following site which I found helpful.

My petunias have given me much pleasure this summer.   They have won my heart with their beauty and simple needs.