I am not a gardening expert by any stretch of the most imaginative imagination. In an area where anyone can grow roses, I manage to kill every bush I plant. Geraniums? No luck. Hosta? A little.
But there is one plant that I seem to be able to grow and even make flourish — wave petunias. And I love them, not only because they are so easy to grow but also because they are so darned pretty.
My first experience with wave petunias came probably 20 years go when I noticed overflowing baskets of purple flowers on the porch of a house I passed each day on my way to work. I was so intrigued by them that I asked until I found out who the homeowner was and called her at work to find out what kind of flowers they were. Now I have window boxes that I fill each year with wave petunias in a multitude of colors — ranging from a patriotic theme of red, white and blue (purple) to a mix of pink, lavender and white.
Wave petunias were introduced almost 25 years ago and have become among the most popular annuals available. Maybe it’s because they offer the best of two worlds — the blooming power of petunias combined with the growth of vines. They are so easy to take care of — just plant, water every day (particularly when they are in exposed planters), sprinkle a little Miracle Grow on them and watch them explode. No dead-heading required. And as an added bonus, the colorful blooms are attractive to hummingbirds.
Wave petunias can be started from seeds or you can go the bedding plant route (that’s what I usually do). Most local garden stores, nurseries and any outlet that carries bedding plants has them once the weather is conducive to growing the flowers.
The flowers come in a rainbow of colors from a dark red that is almost black to a yellow that is called “baby duck.” There is a true blue and even two tones and stripes. There are as many different varieties as colors — from double blooms to minis along with the classic.
Filling my windows boxes with new varieties of wave petunias is something I look forward to each spring. This year, I am excited about a new variety I found information about online called Evening Sensation, a petunia that Burpee describes as “All-America Selections winner (that) has a fragrance that gets more alluring as the sun sets, filling your summer evenings with a heavenly hyacinth scent and notes of rose and honey. It’s a visual sensation too, with brilliant indigo 2-inch blooms that billow from baskets or patio containers, and are dramatic when planted enmasse.” Here’s hoping they are available locally.
If you are looking for lots of ideas on how to grow wave petunias and innovative ideas for planters and display pieces, visit wave-rave.com. To learn about the different varieties available, check out burpee.com.
Watch local nurseries, greenhouses and other outlets for the arrival of wave petunias in the familiar pink pots. And get ready to catch the wave this summer.