Petunia is a genus of about 20 species in the family Solanaceae, native to South America.
This easy to grow plant produces showy, funnel-shaped, single or double flowers that are sweetly perfumed. Petunia is one of the most popular garden plants, with significant ornamental importance. It is perfect for summer flower beds and window boxes. Today, most Petunias are hybrids that are mixes of Petunia and some other flowers.
The genus was named by French botanist Antoine Laurent de Jussieu (1748-1836). The plant is a close relative of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), at that time called “pétun” in France.
Petunia symbolizes anger and resentment. It means: “I am furious”.
It also represents feelings of desire and hope.
Interesting facts about Petunia:
Petunia was introduced to Europe relatively late, in the 19th century.
In the 16th century, Spanish explorers discovered a low growing plant the Tupi-Guarani Indians called “Petun”, which meant “worthless tobacco plant”. Spanish explorers did not send samples of the “Petun” back to Spain simply because they considered it worthless and ugly. In 1823, Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon’s Brother) has sent explorers back to Argentina. During their journey, they collected samples of this plant and send back to Spain where botanists confirmed the Petunia’s relationship to tobacco and place it in the tobacco family (Solanaceae).
Petunias are not only related to tobacco, but also to tomato and Atropa belladonna, commonly known as Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade.
Why are Petunias so Sticky?
Most Petunias have sticky leaves. They produce sticky sap that protects the plant against insects and other pests. Some varieties are stickier than others and some of them aren’t sticky at all. Petunias are naturally sticky and its stickiness is not an indication of disease.
However, excessive stickiness can be the result of aphid feeding. Aphids are common insects found on most plants in gardens. Signs of severe aphid feeding are poor plant growth and yellowed, twisted or curled leaves. You can fight them by washing the leaves or you can use chemicals to eliminate them.
Benefits and Uses
Some varieties are edible, but are not heavily used nowadays.
Petunias are popular ornamental plants, grown for their large and colorful flowers.
Petunias are available in almost all colors except for true blue. The most common colors are white, yellow, pink, red and purple.
Spring, Autumn, Summer
The species range in size from 15 cm to 120 cm (6 inches to 4 ft) in height.
Petunia prefers fertile, moist, but well drained soil, with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.