BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO
During the warm season, a flower species that gardeners should consider growing are petunias (Petunia spp.). Their colorful blooms come in different colors and can bring a burst of vibrance to any garden, especially one that’s located in a bright, sunny area.
Petunias are distinct for their wide, trumpet-shaped flowers and branching foliage that is hairy and somewhat sticky. These are commonly grown in May and June because petunias don’t tolerate cool conditions well.
Grab&Grow, an urban farm in Lucban, Quezon, grows these particularly colorful blooms to sell to plant enthusiasts. It also sells a variety of lettuce and European eggplants to restaurants and hotels.
According to its head farmer and owner, Michael Caballes, the farm decided to grow petunias because of their captivating colors and growth requirements which can easily be provided even by newbie gardeners.
Here are the basic requirements that they need to thrive:
Full, direct sun
“Colorful flowers like petunias prefer being grown under the full, direct sun which helps the plants to bloom profusely,” Caballes said.
This means that petunias should be placed in areas that receive at least six hours of direct sunlight.
But, remember, too much of something can be bad. When the heat gets extreme, move the petunias in areas with partial shade, especially from the strong afternoon sun. This will help them stay fresh and bloom better since extreme heat can cause them to stop blooming.
Watering and soil
Although petunias are sun-loving plants, they don’t like to be dry for long periods. But they also don’t like to be overwatered since it causes root rot.
To make sure that petunias are properly watered during the warm season, Caballes suggests watering the flowers every morning then allowing the water to dry overnight so they won’t be oversaturated.
Planting petunias in well-draining soil can also help prevent waterlogging. Petunias can thrive in almost any soil as long as it has good drainage. But they do better in light, fertile mediums, and soil with a slightly acidic pH.
Caballes noted that another way to secure the growth of petunias is by feeding them with fertilizer. It can be organic, inorganic, or a mixture of both. This can be done once a month but some varieties need to be fertilized once a week so it’s best to research the nutritional requirements of petunia varieties.
Common pests and diseases
Possibly another reason why many gardeners love to grow petunias is that, aside from their colorful blooms, they don’t have many serious issues with pests and diseases.
Some common nuisances in petunias include fungal diseases like root rot which is common in rainy climates. If living in such conditions, gardeners can opt for a variety that’s more tolerant to cold weather.
As for the pests, aphids and budworm caterpillars feed on the stems and the leaves. These can usually be hosed down with a strong blast of water. But if the infection is severe, using an insecticide is the best thing to do.
By providing the proper requirements for petunias, gardeners can enjoy bright blooms that could keep them company during the warm season. And if they remember to keep petunias safe from extreme weather, then these might last even longer and spread joy to those growing them.
For more information, visit Grab&Grow on Facebook.