Introduced in the 1990s, Wave petunias were a popular groundcover for many years. However, Wave petunias come from seed instead of cuttings. Petunias that grow from seed have a 4 stage life cycle: grow, bloom, set more seeds, die. This life cycle usually comes to an end in mid-summer when gardeners will notice their seed petunias stop blooming when the plant gets to the “set more seed” stage of it’s life. Wave petunias also produce a very large root ball which is fine in the ground but can prove problematic in hanging baskets and containers.
In comparison,Supertunia petunias are sterile, meaning they come from cuttings and not seed. Because of this, Supertunias put all their energy into blooming all season long! They don’t stop mid-summer like the Wave petunias; you can count on these extremely vigorous petunias to continue blooming until the first frost. Supertunias also do not create as big of a root ball, making them an outstanding choice for hanging baskets and containers. They are also self-cleaning but a 20% mid-summer trim will help keep them looking neat and tidy until first frost. Let’s deep dive into the different types of Supertunias how to care for them all season long.
Here at Moss Greenhouses, we have tested the Proven Winners line of Supertunias in landscapes, hanging baskets, containers and our own home gardens so that we can give you personalized information about growing Supertunias in the high arid Southern Idaho desert and the surrounding growing zones from 3b to 6a.
Our personal favorite mounding and trailing Supertunia series is called “Vista”. The Vista series is by far the most vigorous, longest blooming petunia on the market, hands down. The Vista series has an average height of 12-24” with the ability to reach trailing lengths of 36-48”. Because of their vigor, they should be planted with other Vista petunias or equally vigorous plants like Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Lime Ipomoea (Sweet Potato Vine), Superbena Verbena or Superbells Calibrachoa. We have many landscapers in Idaho that are using the Supertunia Vista series in large containers and mass planting because of their spread and superior bloom power all summer long. In my personal experience, I planted 2 Supertunia Jazzberry petunias in a 20” round container last summer and was pleasantly surprised when it overtook the container within a few weeks and continued to bloom until the first frost of the season in early October. I loved the color of the Jazzberry as well; it violet-pink blooms looked like they were glowing! The Vista series of Supertunias features 6 colors: Snowdrift (pure white), Bubblegum (soft pink), Jazzberry (violet-pink), Fuschia (bright, medium pink color), Paradise (watermelon color) and Silverberry (almost white with pink veining). If you are in Boise during the summer, take a drive through the Legacy subdivision to see the Supertunia Vista Paradise in action!
The next Supertunia series we feature is the Mini Vista Supertunia. The Mini Vista petunias have smaller blooms than the other varieties we carry, closer in size to a calibrachoa bloom. They have a height of 6-12” with a spread up to 24”. They also feature a very dense growth, making them perfect for the front of beds in landscapes. Do you have a smaller space that is too small for the Vista series? Look no further than the Mini Vista series as it will mound beautifully but only spread about 2 feet. Moss Greenhouses will be carrying 3 colors of Mini Vistas in 2023: Indigo (beautiful dark purple flowers that fade to a lighter purple during the season, giving the plant a multi-color look), Midnight (dark blue-purple) and Yellow (a truly bright yellow). Because the Mini Vistas grow so well in the ground, they are a great substitute for Calibrachoas, which should only be grown in baskets and containers.
Finally, let’s talk about the regular Supertunias. The Standards come in a wide variety of colors and have a height of 6-12” and a spread of 18-24”. This Regular Supertunia petunias are vigorous with slightly mounded habits that function as both fillers and spillers in containers. They are also excellent landscape plants, best suited to be placed near the front of beds. They have medium to large sized flowers. Compared to Supertunia Vista, these plants are shorter, but over time can almost match the spread of a Vista. The selection of regular Supertunias is exceptional this year! We will be offering: Black Cherry, Bordeaux, Honey, Latte, Lovie Dovie, Persimmon, Picasso in Purple, Raspberry Rush, Really Red, Royal Magenta, Royal Velvet, Silver and Trailing Blue Veined. You can find pictures of all of these Supertunias on our website www.mossgreenhouses.com/catalog.
Last but not least, let’s talk about what you’ll need to do to help your Supertunias thrive all summer long:
- Sun = Energy. 6 + hours a day is imperative to help you Supertunias perform their best. Anything less than 6 hours and you’ll find your Supertunias become leggy and produce less blooms.
- Water. The amount of water a plant needs is always changing, here are tips for watering your petunias:
- Have a regular day every week that you water, and as the season progresses and you need to water more often, have a few regular days every week, always trying to be consistent.
- Petunias planted in pots, window boxes or hanging baskets will need more frequent watering than those planted in landscape beds.
- In spring when there is rain and cool nights they just need enough water to keep them moist.
- As the summer progresses (especially in pots) the heat, sun, wind and pot size all cause the plant to need more water.
- Then as fall settles in and night temperatures get cool again, you’ll see plants stay moist longer with each watering and need less water overall.
- Fertilizer = Food. Imagine waking up each morning and producing 50 new flowers without eating breakfast. Fertilizer is essential for Supertunias to produce to their full potential. Make sure you use a “balanced” fertilizer; just like humans need a balanced diet. A balanced fertilizer should supply the following: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. These are the 3 numbers on the front of many fertilizer containers, i.e.: 18-16-12 or 14-14-14. However, this is only part of a balanced plant diet. You also need many other nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, zinc and nickel. To find out if these nutrients are in your fertilizer, read the back label before purchasing. If they’re all there, you have a balanced fertilizer that is perfect for your Supertunias! We recommend mixing a slow release fertilizer into the soil before planting and then as the temperatures rise, supplement with a water soluble fertilizer once a week during the hottest part of summer growing season.
- Mid-Summer trim. This is not something you have to do as Supertunias are self-cleaning. However, after your 4th of July party, it can only help to trim about 20% of your Supertunias back. They will grow out of the trim within about a week and this will help them stay neat and tidy for the rest of the season.
I hope this blog has helped in understanding the difference between Wave Petunias and Supertunias and please feel free to message us with any questions you might have about growing and maintaining your Supertunias!