Petunia has been on the first step of the hit parade of the most popular annual plants for decades. It is also valued in urban landscaping, and few private flower beds can do without this bright year-book. Such popularity has reasonable justification - an attractive appearance, a variety of shapes and colors, ease of care and long, plentiful flowering. However, the petunias in our gardens are not always consistent with those depicted in floriculture magazines or posted on the Internet. Our article will tell about how to care for a petunia so that its flowering is as lush as possible.5 rules for plentiful flowering of petunias
1. Choosing the Right Variety or Hybrid
Abundant flowering, primarily due to genetics. To get lush bushes as from the picture, it is important to responsibly approach the choice of variety or hybrid.
The main priority for breeders when creating a new variety, along with the unusual color, shape of the flower and habit characteristics, is the flowering intensity. Therefore, in most cases, the most magnificent flowering petunias should be sought among modern hybrids.
It is noted that the more dense and branched a bush grows, the more flowers bloom on it. In this regard, in search of the “same” petunia, in which foliage is not visible from under the flowers, one should look at spherical petunias, as well as ampel and semi-ampel hybrids.
In most cases, petunias with very large flowers (e.g. Superbissima) do not have strong branching. Therefore, the most abundantly flowering petunias are most often found in the multiflora or milliflora group. But to create a similar effect using petunias from the group of “large-flowered” (“grandiflora”), much more specimens will be required, and they will have to be planted denser.
What modern varieties of petunias are famous for especially abundant flowering?
Compact bush petunias
Among plants with a compact bush-like shape with short internodes, the following hybrid lines stand out on the market:
Petunia 'SUCCESS!' - A very early series, blooming about a week earlier than most similar varieties. The hybrid forms very dense spherical bushes up to 30 centimeters high, while one plant, with good care, can grow up to 60-70 centimeters. This petunia has a very friendly and plentiful flowering, and unlike other lines, all colors of this series bloom at the same time. Petunia 'SUCCESS!' offers a rich palette of colors - 13 colors from pure white to dark purple.
Petunia 'Capri' - One of the few hybrids of large-flowered petunia, the advantage of which, along with the size of the flowers, is a very plentiful flowering. This series is very similar to the popular line of petunias. The Mona Lisa and has similar characteristics and advantages. The bush is erect and very branched. This series is ideal for flower beds. Also petunia Capri Valued for resistance to disease and adverse weather conditions.
Petunia 'Trilogy' - a recent novelty among hybrid multi-flowered petunias. It has a hemispherical domed bushes. The hybrid is distinguished by very short internodes supporting a compact bush shape and very plentiful flowering. The bush is completely covered with flowers throughout the summer. The cultivar is resistant to changes in the length of the day, and a decrease in daylight does not affect the intensity of its flowering.Petunia 'SUCCESS!'
Among semi-ampelous petunias, the most abundantly flowering are: 'Ramblin', 'Nuvolari', 'Gioconda'.
The most abundantly blooming ampelous petunias belong to the series: 'Shock wave', 'Easy Wave', 'Opera Supreme'.
Petunia "Taidal wave"
I would also like to dwell on the largest scale variety of petunias. 'Tidal wave' (Taidal Wave - "Tidal Wave") This series is so different from other ampelous petunias that it was isolated in a separate group - 'Petunia Hedgiflora'.
The unusualness of this series lies in indomitable power, which has no analogues among other lines of hybrid petunias. Firstly, this petunia has the highest height (up to 55 cm), and secondly, it has the longest lashes, reaching 1.5 meters in length. The community, covered in hundreds of wide-open flowers, is a delightful sight. Therefore, the Taidal Wave wave hybrid can rightly be called unsurpassed in terms of the abundance of flowering among all petunias.Petunia "Taidal wave".
2. Proper seedling preparation
Petunia seedlings grow and develop quite quickly and without problems, and in most cases even a beginner can cope with the cultivation of petunias from seeds. However, there are small tricks that allow you to get stronger, and therefore more abundantly flowering plants.
The main enemy of petunia seedlings is a lack of light, as well as too high air temperature. Both of these factors contribute to the excessive extension of seedlings (often with the curvature of the stems). And plants with too long internodes look loose, and will no longer look like a bush densely strewn with flowers, no matter how profusely it blooms.
Therefore, it is better that the temperature in the room with seedlings of petunias does not rise above 20 degrees, and the lighting is always sufficient. On cloudy days you need to turn on the backlight.
The observations of the author of the article, as well as of some other flower growers, show the dependence of the branching force on the ambient temperature. In the form of an unintentional experiment (due to the lack of space on the windowsill), in early May, part of the petunias of one variety was planted in containers in the open air, and the other part remained in the apartment. The weather at the beginning of May was changeable, and at night the temperature sometimes dropped below 10 degrees, during the day it was 15-20 degrees.
At the very beginning, in such stressful conditions, the seedlings slowed down the growth, while their brethren were already actively blooming on the windowsill, they were just planting buds. However, after looking at the shape of the bush, it was very difficult to believe that they were representatives of the same variety.
Domestic pampered petunias were long sticks with flowers at the ends, while street ones formed low stocky bushes with very strong branching without any additional pinching and formation. In the future, the first ones could not catch up with seasoned relatives in terms of splendor, and the flowering of the street, respectively, was also more plentiful.
From this experiment, we can conclude that lowering the temperature has a direct effect on enhancing the branching of petunias. If you dare to repeat my experience, it is important to keep in mind that you need to send petunias to the cold no sooner than after they are cut into separate containers and develop 4-5 true leaves. Younger seedlings at too low a temperature can completely stop growth or simply die.
In addition, one should not forget about the possibility of night frosts in May, so if there is a threat of such, you need to take care of a reliable shelter for petunias.
To seedlings of petunias was strong and healthy, it is also important not to delay the planting of seedlings in open ground. After all, mature, already blooming seedlings, which were overexposed in tiny glasses, look oppressed and its growth and flowering are weakened.
To avoid this, sowing is carried out taking into account the timing of planting in open ground, and this should be done only after the threat of spring frost disappears. Depending on the region, this may be mid-May or early June. Therefore, crops are carried out from late February to late March. In the middle lane, it is optimal to sow petunia no earlier than mid-March.In order for the seedlings of petunias to be strong and healthy, it is important not to delay the planting of seedlings in a permanent place
3. Optimal conditions and care
Petunia is a photophilous plant and planting in the shade will lead to the fact that the flower will not be able to reveal its potential and give out plentiful flowering. But even in the sun, petunia will require more careful care, because the strong drying of the earth in sunny places during the heat has a depressing effect on the flowers. Flowering weakened plants will also not be particularly intense.
Practice has shown that for abundant flowering of petunias, a plant needs only 5 hours of direct sunlight per day. In particular, I successfully grow petunia on a balcony of oriental orientation. That is, flowers receive sunlight only until lunchtime, in the afternoon the sun is on the other side of the building and again begins to illuminate plantings only the next morning.
In such conditions, my petunias bloom incredibly plentifully until late autumn, while in the balcony boxes of the owners of the southern balconies by the middle of summer the petunias look tired. Petunias, tormented by heat, bloom much poorer, although they reach a peak of decorativeness somewhat earlier than shaded ones.
In container growing of petunias, the question of the volume of substrate required for the development of plants is still debatable. I grow petunias as part of flower arrangements in the company of other annuals, so I never adhered to the standards specified by the manufacturer.
With regular feeding, my petunias in standard balcony crates with a fairly dense planting develop well and bloom superbly, but at the same time, perhaps, the bushes do not grow as much as would happen when planting "in separate apartments".
To unleash the full potential of a particular hybrid in terms of power, it is still desirable to adhere to the recommendations on the amount of soil per instance. For each hybrid line, these numbers are individual, but if we summarize the data, the following data is obtained: bush petunias require 5-10 liters of substrate per bush, ampel hybrids - 10-15 liters, the aforementioned powerful Taidal Wave hybrid - 20-40 liters of soil on one plant.
When choosing a container for petunias, either too little or too much soil can have a negative effect, since in the latter case, soil that has not been developed by the roots can become sour or the plant begins to concentrate on building up green mass to the detriment of flowering.
The minimum volume when growing petunias is 3 liters per instance.
An important component of lush flowering is also optimal nutrition. Petunia is one of the most “gluttonous” annuals that will bloom well only with proper regular nutrition. None of the purchased soil or substrate, compiled independently, is not able to cover the needs of petunias for nutrients.
When container growing petunias, “long-playing” fertilizers for flowering plants, which exist in the form of granules, tablets or sticks, are necessarily added to the planting capacity. But this, most likely, will not be enough.
With a good filling of the soil, I fertilize my balcony petunias once every 2 weeks, and noticed that if this is done less often, it immediately affects the flowering. Most often I use complex fertilizers for top dressing. For convenience, it is better to use concentrates in liquid form or in the form of instant powder, which is diluted in settled water at room temperature.
Also, petunias respond very well to feeding with "Potassium Monophosphate". To stimulate flowering, you can alternate root and foliar dressing, as well as use the growth and flowering stimulants that are always available in specialized stores for gardeners.When container growing petunias, “long-playing” fertilizers for flowering plants are necessarily added to the planting capacity
4. The formation of the bush and anti-aging haircut petunias
Most modern hybrid lines have genetically strong branching from the very beginning of development, and they do not need additional formation at seedling age. Petunias that do not require pinching can be easily distinguished even at the seedling stage, because as soon as they have real leaves, lateral shoots begin to form from the sinuses. As they grow, such bushes branch more and more.
Gardeners call seedlings of petunias with a similar type of growth "spiders"; it is better not to pinch such seedlings so as not to inhibit flowering. But there are still many varieties that do not have abundant branching and require formation. It can also happen that too high a temperature will contribute to the fact that even modern branching varieties instead of "spiders" begin to grow with a "stick". And then adjustments cannot be avoided.
The first pinching of petunias is carried out when 5-6 true leaves develop on the seedlings. In this case, the top of the plant just gently breaks off with the young leaves. In the future, as you grow, you can pinch the petunia once again, which already has lateral shoots with four young leaves.
As a rule, subsequent pinching is carried out after the seedlings are planted in the ground. It is best to continue the formation after the petunia adapts well in a new place and grows. Repeated pinching is carried out no more than once a month.
In the middle of summer, some petunias can notice extension and thinning of the bush, along with weakening of flowering. The first anti-aging pruning of petunias is usually carried out in late July-mid or late July (depending on the condition of the bush). At the same time, 30-50% of the length of the stems is cut off.
At first, such a petunia looks sad, however, in two weeks the bush will gain “second youth” - new young shoots will grow on it, which will soon be covered with buds. To help the plant restore its green mass, it is recommended to use a single top dressing with nitrogen fertilizer after clipping.
The second haircut is applied as necessary, it is desirable that it is not carried out later than the beginning of August. This time, it is better to cut off only 30% of the length of the stems. When rejuvenating pruning ampoule petunias, it should be borne in mind that even when cutting in the middle of summer, they will no longer have time to grow equally long lashes, but they will form neat flowering hats, therefore, cutting ampelous series is necessary only if they completely lose their appearance.
Note. Most modern petunia hybrids are sterile, and faded flowers are removed to maintain a neat appearance of the bush, but this does not stimulate flowering. In this case, if you leave the faded flowers on the petunias, this will not lead to a weakening of the bush. However, occasionally on hybrids, as well as on varietal specimens, seed boxes are tied. In this case, the plant spends energy on the ripening of the seeds, and the ovaries must be removed immediately.Removing faded flowers is carried out to maintain a neat appearance of petunia, this does not stimulate flowering.
5. Cutting the roots of petunias
Usually no one transplant container petunias in the middle of summer. However, the roots of the plant, planted in a small pot, can become crowded by the middle of summer, which will lead to weakening of flowering.
In such situations, you can resort to a little trick experienced florists. After the first wave of abundant flowering comes down and the bush begins to show signs of "fatigue", pruning the aerial parts by about 1/3. After that, the petunia is carefully removed from the pot with a lump of earth.With a sharp knife, the root lump is cut so that the roots are cut off in half.
For such a procedure, it is important that the knife is well sharpened and clean, since in this case the roots will be cut off, not torn. Thanks to this, the root system can quickly recover and grow young absorbent roots that nourish the bush.
The trimmed plant is transplanted into fresh soil, preferably in a slightly larger pot, treated with an anti-stress drug and sent into the shade for about a week and watered abundantly. During the first two to three weeks, the bush is fed once every seven days with fertilizer with a high nitrogen content.
After this time, the updated plant can again be fed with complex fertilizers. A similar procedure by the end of summer and early autumn allows you to get updated shrubs, which in terms of splendor of flowering will not be inferior to petunias growing in early summer.