New plants are introduced in what seems to be ever-increasing numbers. It can leave a gardener wondering if it is really necessary to have 50 new marigolds or 100 new petunias added in one year. I have to admit that sometimes one marigold or petunia is as good as the next. But, sometimes a petunia isn’t just another petunia. Sometimes you get something so outstanding it makes you rethink what you were sure you knew about that plant. For me, Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum Petunia was one of those plants.
I’ll admit it. I wasn’t really a fan of Petunias. Sure, they could be really pretty, but they had to be deadheaded, and who has the time for that? They also didn’t really perform that great throughout the whole summer, at least partly because I didn’t deadhead. Petunias weren’t really anything I was going to get too excited about. Then in the spring of 2006, that all changed. Proven Winners® introduced Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum and Supertunia® Vista Fuchsia and I’ve never viewed Petunias the same again. Three years later, Supertunia® Vista Silverberry joined the group.
So why did Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum have such an impact? First, it doesn’t need to be deadheaded. The plant will bloom prolifically all summer long and I never have to pick off a single spent flower. Second, the vigor of the plant is outstanding. The first year, I used three plants in each of three 20-inch containers. They grew like crazy, cascading onto the concrete around the planters and then kept on going. The second year, I planted them in the landscape, a single plant in several different spots. They bloomed all summer, no deadheading, no supplemental water, just a good addition of compost prior to planting. I planted in May and by September that one single plant was 3 feet by 5 feet and 18 inches tall and buried in bright bubblegum pink blooms.
Both Supertunia® Vista Fuchsia and Supertunia® Vista Silverberry perform as well as Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum.
After growing these in my garden every year since they were introduced, do I have any tips or tricks so that you, too, can be this successful? First, they don’t necessarily need it, but I give my plants a light haircut when I’m planting them. This encourages additional branching and helps the plant start growing strong in its new home. Second, put them where they’ll get at least six hours of direct sun a day. They will do much better with a lot of light. Third, because they are such vigorous growers and bloomers, they use a lot of energy. This means fertilizer is key to maximizing their potential. Fourth, because the plants get very large, you will need to keep up your watering, if you grow them in containers.
I do treat in-ground and container plantings a bit differently. For containers, I add a controlled-release fertilizer when I’m transplanting and then mid-summer (usually in July for me) I start using a water-soluble fertilizer as often as I can. This will really give your container plants a boost. I also recommend larger containers (18-inch or larger), because they are much easier to keep hydrated. If it is hot, be prepared to water every day and potentially more than once. In containers, I usually give a mid- to late-summer trim-back, since the plants can begin to look a bit open as the summer goes on. That first year on a warm August lunch break, I trimmed back my three large containers by about 1/3. What was full bloom in the morning was green meatballs after the trim-back. Within a couple of days, they were back in color and by a week later they were in full bloom. That trim really reinvigorated the plants and improved the look of the containers as they headed into fall.
For in-ground plantings, things are a bit easier. Before planting I incorporate a good dose of compost and then use a controlled release fertilizer. The in-ground beds have never needed supplemental fertilizer beyond that. I put the plants one to two feet apart, depending on how impatient I am for them to fill the spot. I put soaker hoses in my beds and water only when things are very dry and then only once a week. I find it is better to water deeply with a soaker hose once a week, versus a little bit of water more often. For one thing, it encourages deep root growth. I also don’t usually give my plants the mid- to late-summer trim-back. The openness that I see in container plants doesn’t happen in the ground. The only time I trim back is if the petunias have covered too much of the sidewalk and I need to make room for people.
Supertunia plants are truly some of the best performing petunias you can buy. Try them and you might find yourself rethinking what growing a Petunia means.
This article was written by Kerry Meyer. Kerry is the Project Manager at Proven Winners.
Patent info: Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum Petunia hybrid ‘USTUNI6001’ PP: 17730 Can.: 2871; Supertunia® Vista Fuchsia Petunia hybrid ‘USTUNI8902’ PP: 17895 Can. Can.: 2875; Supertunia® Vista Silverberry Petunia hybrid ‘USTUNI6001M’ PP: 20903 Can.: 3866