Digging In: Petunia offers the 'wave' of the future

Courtesy<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Wave petunias do well in a high desert environment.

Courtesy<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Wave petunias do well in a high desert environment.

Have you seen the wave petunias in some of the local stores? They are a bit more expensive than the other petunias, and I'm sure you have wondered if they are worth the additional expense.

Wave petunias are a hybrid cultivar of petunias that were introduced several years ago. These are among the first of the true trailing petunias that spread effectively as a ground cover. Waves spread quickly. With little care in full sun, they are excellent as border plants or even in large beds. In containers, the wave petunias will cascade over the sides and produce quite a lovely spectacle.

Wave petunias produce flowers all along the long, low stems, which contribute to the impressive display. They bloom from mid-spring until late fall. New varieties are introduced every year so there is an abundance of colors.

Wave petunias differ from standard petunias in several ways. Wave petunias are covered in 2-inch blooms. They can grow up to 4 feet in just a few weeks. They are more heat resistant, cold-hardy and less susceptible to disease. They are easy to grow and don't need a lot of deadheading. They bounce back from heavy rains quickly. They grow well as ground cover, in beds, hanging baskets, or other containers.

These plants seem to answer every gardener's wish. There are a few things you should know.

It is not recommended that you plant your wave petunias in the same place every year. You'll see better results if you do not plant them in the same bed for two consecutive years. Move them around your garden. In baskets and containers, dispose of the old soil and replace with fresh potting soil every year.

Wave petunias are low-maintenance. You don't have to cut the plants back or remove dead flowers. The faded blooms will dry up and drop off the plants on their own. Other blooms will take their place.

Wave petunias should be grown in full sun for 5-6 hours a day. Sun is a must to keep your plants blooming and looking their best all season. They should be watered regularly and fertilized once a week. If you do this, you won't have to "pinch" back the plants.

When you are ready to plant, remember to maintain the same plant depth as in the original pot or pack. Space wave petunias 12 to 24 inches apart in garden beds. If spaced 12 inches apart, they form a dense, mounded hedge. If they are spaced a little farther apart, about 18 inches, they will grow as a large, mounded plant.

For lush, full containers, place 3 plants in a 10 to 12 inch container. This will give you a head-turning display.

Watering and fertilizing are very important. Don't let the wave petunias dry out between waterings. The soil should drain well.

Wave petunias are heavy feeders. Apply a liquid fertilizer every 10 to 14 days or use a combination of liquid and slow-release fertilizer.

Wave petunias are extremely heat tolerant. One stipulation is that you should plant them early in the growing season so that they can establish strong root systems before high temperatures set in.

Why not consider growing these new plants in your garden? I'm going to give them a try next year.