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Your patio should be your own special haven.
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Time to Fertilize

Your container gardens, annual flower beds and even your vegetable garden will appreciate a dose of fertilizer. Two products I use and recommend are Osmocote's Slow Release Plant Food: Vegetable and Bedding and Fertilome's Blooming and Rooting Soluble Plant Food. Of course, you don't need to use both products, just one or the other. If you want something natural and organic, sprinkle bone meal on the soil.  

For more information about fertilizer types, check out this newsletter.

Caring for your Petunias

* Petunias become "leggy" or "spindly" and need to be cut back. A pair of sharp office scissors works great. Cut your plants in the early morning or in the evening to help prevent leaf scorch. You can remove 1/2 or more of each stem without harming the plant. Within a week, your plants will reward you with new blooms. Click here for more information about pinching petunias.

* Common pests for petunias are budworm caterpillars and aphids.
Budworms can be controlled by manually picking them off and drowning them in saltwater or by using Bacillus thuringensis (Bt) which is a natural bacteria. Aphids can be removed from your plants with a jet of water from the hose. Both pests can be controlled using carbaryl insecticide (brand name Sevin).

*Petunias are usually disease free plants.

Tell Your Friends

When your guests admire your lovely container gardens, please refer them to Patio Plants Unlimited. You can earn $25 off next year's planting service for each referral.

What's in a Name: Petunia

Petunias are a staple in our annual gardens - fast growing, colorful, reliable and do well in both containers and garden beds. Have you ever wondered where Petunias came from?

Petunias are native to South America where purple petunias are often considered weeds in the farmers' fields. In the early 1800's, Napoleon sent a commission to South America to evaluate the resources and that commission sent samples of Petunia nyctaginiflora or "Night-scented Petunias" back to Paris in 1823. Nearly a decade later, in 1831, English botanist James Tweedie sent Petunia violacea to the Glasgow botanical gardens. 

Interestingly, "petun" is the Brazilian word for "tobacco" - a plant which also grows wild in South America. Tobacco plants and petunia are both classified in the same family (Solanaceae), but they are not really that similar in appearance. Could the explorers have been confused by the native language?

Botanists eventually cataloged just 40 natural species of petunias. Since petunias breed, cross-pollinate and hybridize with ease, there are hundreds if not thousands of hybrids which give us a multitude of choices in color, pattern, bloom size, and growth habit. 

Petunias grow easily from seed, but you will find more varieties at a nursery. After many years of production, some varieties are "established hybrid strains." This means that you will get the same color and attributes from the seeds of the plant. Others are called "F1 hybrids" which can only realizably be propagated by stem cuttings -- the seeds are unlikely to grow into similar plants. Before you set up a business growing petunias, be aware that hybrid plants, seeds and cuttings are often protected by growers under U.S. Patent laws.

Be sure to take a moment to enjoy your petunias in the late evening. Many are still quite fragrant at night.

If you have any questions about your plants or irrigation system, please contact me. I sincerely hope your patio is your own special haven. 

Stephanie Selig
tel: (970) 988-3808
Stephanie@patioplantsunlimited.com
www.patioplantsunlimited.com


Resources:

Crockett, James Underwood. The Time-Life Encyclopedia of Gardening: Annuals. New York: Time-Life, 1971. Print.

Ellis, Barbara W. Taylor's Guide to Annuals: How to Select and Grow More than 400 Annuals, Biennials, and Tender Perennials. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Print.

"Planttalk Colorado - Petunia." Colorado State University Extension. 27 Oct. 2010. Web. 26 July 2011. <http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1035.html>.

Wells, Diana. "Petunia." 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin of Chapel Hill, 1997. 166-168. Print.