PETUNIA

PETUNIA

Petunias are primarily native to Central and South America and belong to the Solanaceae family. They are herbaceous plants (perennial in their natural habitat) but are cultivated as annuals in Italian gardens. These plants form small shrubs with branches that tend to curve downwards and that bear many tubular flowers. Their leaves and branches are covered with silky hairs that, if touched, feel sticky. From spring to late summer, petunias produce an abundance of colourful flowers that cover all the hanging branches. There are many varieties that are distinguishable by the size and colour of the flowers, which varies from white, to pink, to fuchsia, to blue. Petunias are ideal for vases and flower boxes. The cultivation of petunias requires several measures to support their rapid growth. First of all, they must be placed in full sun or part-shade. A lack of light is immediately apparent as their tendency is to lengthen their branches, produce yellowish leaves, and flower very little. Much care must be taken in preparing the potting compost which must allow for good water retention but also guarantee an efficient drainage of excess water. In flower boxes with flowerpot holders, it is advisable to create a bottom layer with a few centimeters of expanded clay on which to place a compost made up of 60% peat and 40% sand or perlite. Taking into consideration the plants' rapid growth, it is important to provide fertilizers when repotting. This is why it is advisable to mix complex slow-release (NPK) fertilizers into the potting compost. Equally important is guaranteeing frequent irrigation to avoid wilting leaves and flowers. Petunia flowers do not fear water and can be irrigated with no risk of spotting. They must be fed frequently, even once a week, with soluble fertilizers to be distributed through irrigation. As far as diseases are concerned, petunias are very resistant to fungi and bacterium, while they are prone to attacks by aphids and red spider mites. In the latter case, one can use aphicides or acaricides that are easily found in garden centers. A useful practice for maintaining abundant flowering in all parts of the plants is pruning. This is usually done in late July, when the branches have reached 30-40 cm in length and the plants no longer produce flowers in the part nearest the vase. In these cases, the branches must be shortened to 5-10 cm. Pruning should be followed by good fertilization and frequent irrigation; in doing so, after a week, the plant will produce new offshoots that will fill the vase until late October.

pianta da fiore petunia