My love of petunias

Petunia Hanging Basket

Petunia Hanging Basket

I love petunias, they are so bright and colourful and make beautiful displays in hanging baskets and containers.  I use mainly baskets and containers in my garden which are displayed on my decking at the front of my house during the summer.

This year I wanted to do something different with the petunias.  Our local football team AFC Bournemouth had been promoted to the Premier League so I decided to do something in their honour.  I have a stand with three baskets, small, medium and large which stands by my front door.  The Bournemouth colours are black and red so I bought some red double petunias and was able to find some single black petunias which looked just like velvet.  I planted them and stood back to await the results.  Bournemouth Football club sent me a digital photo of their emblem which I enlarged and put in the window at the side of the petunias.  It caused interest amongst neighbours especially those who were supporters including two of my grandchildren.  As you see on the photo I had a hanging basket with the same petunias in just to the right of the stand and they ended up in growing together.

AFCBournemouthcolours

AFCBournemouthcolours

I also grew some very different petunias, a cerise colour with very light leaves which really showed up the colour of the flower and lasted for most of the summer.  Another idea I had was to grow red, white and blue petunias for the fence baskets which worked out very well, and also a red, white and blue triple hanging basket.  Red in the top, white in the middle and blue in the bottom basket.

I have also had success with growing petunias in hanging bags but have learnt from previous disappointments that when I have planted up the bag is to leave it lying flat until they are settled. This seemed to work much better for me this year.   I really like the new kind of petunia which graduates from white in the centre to a deeper colour middle to top of the flower.   A couple of years ago I tried some climbing petunias – Petunia ‘Tidal Wave’ – which were very successful.

Petunia in hanging bag

Petunia in hanging bag

Of course it hasn`t all been success, I got up one morning only to find that the dripper from the watering system had fallen out of one of the baskets and the strong winds we had dried it out completely.   Although I tried very hard to save it I wasn`t able to, and another basket this happened to, I had to cut them right back, soaked it in a bucket of water and in about a month they were all flowering again, so at 77 I still have to ‘live and learn`!

This year I bought some petunias called Petunia ‘Peach Sundae’ they were beautiful shades of yellow, orange and peach.  They lasted throughout the whole summer no matter what the weather did, including some torrential rain and hailstones but after a few days they all just bounced back again.

Petunia 'Peach Sundae'

Petunia ‘Peach Sundae’

I am now wondering which petunias I shall plant for this coming year?  Roll on summer I say.

Jean Willis
I started gardening 65 years ago on my Dad’s allotment and now live in Bournemouth, where spend a lot of time gardening since retiring. In 2012 I won the Gold Award for Bournemouth in Bloom Container Garden. I am a member of Thompson & Morgan’s customer trial panel.

Growing petunias

Growing petunias – Our blogger Hannah gives some helpful hints and tips

Growing Petunias will provide sunny positions in your garden with months of colour. They are one of the easiest summer bedding plants to grow; with a few tips they will look stunning in your sunny seasonal displays!

Petunias are easy to grow from both seeds and plugs. However, plugs will provide an established plant in a much shorter time. If growing from seed, sow around 10 weeks before you want to get them outside. Petunias can be planted into your chosen container as soon as we say goodbye to the spring frosts.

With many weather resistant varieties now available, they are much more tolerable to rain. In addition to this, breeding of new varieties has developed climbing petunias such as our own Petunia ‘Purple Rocket’. This exclusive double flowering Petunia grows rapidly and produces a tower of purple once established on a frame.

Petunia 'Purple Rocket'

Petunia ‘Purple Rocket’

Petunias love the sun so place in a bright place in the garden and the plants will flourish.

If planting in containers, mix in a fertiliser such as Incredibloom into the compost when planting.   The high potassium content will boost the plants nutrients and ensure prolific flowering throughout the season.

In order to help the plants last throughout the season, deadheading is vital. Petunias produce so many flowers, that the seed will naturally follow. As the plant is putting all energy into producing seed, it doesn’t make so many new flowers. In order to keep the plants in top condition, removing the faded flowers will help the plant make new buds and keep it to a good shape before it gets too leggy.  Some varieties will benefit from pinching early to keep a nice bushy shape to the plant, particularly in baskets or pouches. Ensure the flower is pinched back close to the stem, removing the whole part of the flower. If only the petal is removed the plant will continue to produce seed.

Petunia 'Stars In Their Eyes'

Petunia ‘Stars In Their Eyes’

It is also important to not let the plants dry out, as this will slow growth. Keep the container moist at all times, however keep the balance and don’t let the plants ‘sit’ too wet. When watering, try to avoid getting the petals wet as this will prolong the life of the flowers.

Keep an eye out for pests and diseases on your plants. Aphids camouflage very well onto the colour of petunia leaves! If you can take action as soon as you see them as they distort the new buds. Later in the season, powdery mildew can sometimes become a problem with the British weather. If you have any bicarbonate of soda in your baking cupboard, mix a solution of 10gm of bicarbonate of soda per litre of water and spray onto the affected area.

Assistant Nursery & Site Manager

Getting the most from your petunias

 

Extend your flowering season and keep your petunias in top condition with these simple tips from T&M gardening expert Kris Collins

Petunias are something I turn to every spring in order to get my garden ready for summer. I couldn’t be without them in my hanging baskets. Trailing types, covered in their mass of fragrant trumpet blooms, such as Petunia ‘Easy Wave Ultimate Mixed’, are perfect for getting that luxurious feel to your summer garden.

Petunia 'Easy Wave Ultimate Mixed'

Petunia ‘Easy Wave Ultimate Mixed’

Most commonly used in container displays, there are actually many varieties that lend well to border plantings too, creating a carpet of colour, while smothering soils to prevent weeds and trap moisture.

Petunias require very little specialist upkeep. As long as you are prepared to water regularly and remove spent flowers as they go over you’ll be in for a season of scent and colour right though to autumn.

Get the best from your petunias, no matter the variety, with my top tips for success:

 

Choose the right variety for the right location

When it comes to getting the best from your petunias the first thing to consider is where you want to grow them. Grandiflora types such as Petunia ‘Titan Blue Velvet’ are best saved for basket and container displays – the large blooms are better shown off at height, and will be less prone to weather damage and mud splash. For a show stopping petunia bedding display, multiflora types including Petunia ‘Frenzy Mixed’ are the best option. They have smaller flowers and more of them, creating a carpet of colour that will shrug off a summer shower.

Petunia-'titan-blue-velvet'

petunia-‘titan-blue-velvet’

Water regularly
Watering is key – in height of summer you may need to water containers and baskets twice a day, but at least every other day in an average British summer. For those that work long hours  and have less time for watering, it’s a good idea to move  petunia hanging baskets and small containers to a shady spot during heatwave conditions, keeping them out of the afternoon sun until you can get home to give them a drink. Alternatively invest in an auto watering system to reduce your workload and keep your baskets evenly moist.

 

 

Deadhead faded blooms
Remove spent flowers as often as possible – don’t just clear away spent petals, make sure to remove the flower stalk otherwise seed pods will form, the plant will then think it has achieved its objective and flowering will start to reduce.

Petunia 'Frenzy Mixed'

Petunia ‘Frenzy Mixed’

Feeding
We’ve seen some excellent results with petunias in our technical trials for Incredibloom. Our one-off granular feed, applied at planting time to soils or composts, encourages up to 400% more blooms and provides everything your plants need for up to 7months – covering the whole growing season.

Early training
Pinch out during early stages of growth, do this two or three times before planting out to encourage side shooting. This will lead to much more compact plants with many more flowers throughout the season

Late training
By mid August, some petunia varieties may start to look a little tired and straggly. To encourage a second strong flush of blooms to last well into autumn, cut the whole display back by a third and offer a general purpose liquid feed. Within a week or so the plants will start to bush out again and fresh new flowers will soon follow. Within 2 weeks – just in time for your August Bank Holiday garden parties the display will again be in full bloom with no sign that it has been pruned.

Starting from seed
If growing from seed aim to sow plants 10-12 weeks ahead of safe planting. So if you are generally safe to start planting out bedding plants in your area from the 1st week of June, aim to sow your seeds in the first week of March. I’ll be looking at sowing petunias in more detail before then, so stay tuned.

Kris Collins
Kris Collins works as Thompson & Morgan’s communications officer, making sure customers new and old are kept up to date on the latest plant developments and company news via a wide range of media sources. He trained in London’s Royal Parks and has spent more than a decade writing for UK gardening publications before joining the team at Thompson & Morgan.

Roses for Valentine’s Day – What is your favourite?

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching I thought I would have a look at some of the beautiful roses available. Roses come in a wide variety of colours, growing habits and sizes. Some like ‘Rose ‘Sweet Spot Calypso’ are great for growing in patio containers due to their low growth habit. This means you can have roses on a balcony, or even in a small garden, so no excuses for not being romantic.

Rose 'Sweet Spot Calypso'

Rose ‘Sweet Spot Calypso’

Climbing roses such as Rose ‘Climbing Masquerade’ are good at growing up trellises or walls and can therefore be trained to climb, making a beautiful archway down the garden where you can woo your suitors and impress them with your dreamy garden! These double blooms unfurl into a charming shade of yellow and then mature through tones of soft pink to a deep raspberry red colour. Other climbing roses are the beautiful, deep red Rose ‘Pauls Scarlet’ and Rose ‘Golden Showers’ in a bright, bold yellow will also climb up walls and trellises and look great all summer long. If you don’t have much space how about something smaller?

Mascarade

Mascarade

 

Minature Rose Standards are one of our easiest roses to grow, they are more reliable and floriferous than traditional roses and they too look great in containers on the patio.  They can also be included in your borders, with tones of red, yellow, white and pink these lovelies will be great for picking and giving to your beau when they come over for tea. If a miniature rose is not for you then how about the Rose ‘Giant Collection’? These extra special hybrid tea roses come in a host of colours, with Rose ‘Naomi’ being perfect for Valentine’s Day with its gorgeous shade of red in the traditional Valentines Day colour.

If red is your thing but you don’t want a giant rose then the eye-catching Rose ‘Red Fairy’ (Polyantha) may be for you.  This beautiful hardy shrub is perfect cut flower material and flowers right through summer, it has a neat, compact habit and makes a lovely patio shrub.

Rose 'Red Fairy'

Rose ‘Red Fairy’

Rose ‘For Your Eyes Only’ a Floribunda rose is an early flowering plant that continues right through until autumn. It was the Rose of the Year 2015 and is set to change the face of modern roses with its unique open flowers and central blotching. This compact rose has a short height and is best suited to ground cover or containers, so bunches of roses can be cut and added to a bouquet made at home.

All the roses in Thompson & Morgan’s selection have wonderful colours but the New Rose ‘Hot Chocolate’ is something different. With rusty orange blooms that open out to rich smoky browns, this scented rose has a rich and fruity perfume that will charm any would be suitor, and as an extra bonus it is disease resistant too. This repeat flowering rose continues through summer and into early autumn, making it a long lasting addition to your borders.

Rose Hot Chocolate

Rose Hot Chocolate

These are just a few of the huge range of roses available, and although they may take a while to establish they will always be worth it, just like your love who deserves nothing but the best our roses flourish well with the addition of our Incredibloom.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all…

Wendie Alexander
Currently at university I have nearly finished my English Degree. I have been at Thompson & Morgan for nearly 3 years. I am a keen gardener who wants to learn lots more!

Petunias Take Centre Stage

2016 – Thompson & Morgan Petunia Parade is here to celebrate a national favourite

Thompson & Morgan is kick starting a 2016 Petunia Parade with the launch of several hot new petunias in its spring catalogue. We are aiming to inspire UK gardeners and change some out-dated attitudes to an unsung garden hero.

Petunia Frills & Spills

Announcing the initiative, Thompson & Morgan Communications Officer, Kris Collins said: “There’s a certain amount of snobbery in some circles when it comes to Petunias. Some gardeners turn their noses up, but these showy summer performers remain popular for a reason. No other plant offers such diversity in terms of garden use, colour scheme, growth habit and ease of growing. There’s something for everyone in our 2016 Petunia selection – colour, shape, style and even scent. If you grow our latest introduction, people will be turning their noses up for a very different reason!”

The seed and young plant mail order specialist is bringing high scent to the genus with new Petunia ‘Purple Rocket’. Double flowers mean MORE petals and MORE fragrance. Just one pot of this climbing beauty will fill the garden with scent all summer. All introductions for 2016 have been selected for their performance under UK growing conditions, blooming right up to the first frosts of autumn – expect to see giant flower forms that will bounce back after summer showers.

The Petunia Parade is not just about showing off the fantastic range of Thompson & Morgan Petunias – including its star performer ‘Night Sky’, a truly unique variety and a world first in flower patterning. The Parade will be fully backed via www.thompson-morgan.com/petunia-parade

Customers will be able to log on for top growing advice, planting and training ideas, petunia growing blogs and stunning images and easy how-to videos – all supplied by Thompson & Morgan’s team of experts.

Customers will be encouraged to join in the parade, sharing their passion for Petunias and posting their progress through the season. The seed and young plant specialist is also looking for the best British petunia display – be it a small container display or a mass bedding scheme. Gardeners can send in their photos through the season for a chance to win £100 of Thompson & Morgan vouchers. Ten runners up will each receive a £10 voucher. Competition closes 30th September. Visit Thompson & Morgan Competitions for details.

Thompson & Morgan Petunia Highlights 2016

 

Petunia Purple RocketPetunia ‘Purple Rocket’
An exclusive double flowering Petunia from the Thompson & Morgan breeding programme.
Rapid growth and early flowering produces the ultimate column of colour when trained on a frame. Just three plants set into a Thompson & Morgan Tower Pot™ will create a winning summer patio or balcony display. Bred in the UK to cope with British weather, long stems quickly reach up to 1.8m (6ft) in height come rain or shine.
View Petunia ‘Purple Rocket’ Here

Petunia Night SkyPetunia ‘Night Sky’
This new Fleuroselect Gold winner brings unique flower markings to the petunia market. Compact semi-trailing plants are covered in starry blooms. There’s no need for a telescope to star gaze, you’ll find a constellation in every flower!
View Petunia ‘Night Sky’ Here

Petunia Easy WavePetunia ‘Easy Wave™ Ultimate Mixed’
This customer favourite just keeps on getting better! Rapid growth, a unique prostrate habit and prolific blooms make Petunia ‘Easy Wave™’ adaptable to almost any garden situation – it even makes an excellent ground cover plant! New for 2016, the mix now has 18 vibrant colours, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy from this best seller.
View Petunia ‘Easy Wave™ Ultimate Mixed’ Here

For more new petunia varieties visit: www.thompson-morgan.com/petunia-parade

Kris Collins
Kris Collins works as Thompson & Morgan’s communications officer, making sure customers new and old are kept up to date on the latest plant developments and company news via a wide range of media sources. He trained in London’s Royal Parks and has spent more than a decade writing for UK gardening publications before joining the team at Thompson & Morgan.

10 Hidden Gems

With so many new plants to choose from in our 2016 range, we think you might need a bit of help! So, I’ve decided to pick out 10 hidden gems for you- whatever the size or style of your garden.

Power DaisyPower Daisy – It’s not often that an entirely new type of plant comes along, but let me introduce the ‘Power Daisy’. Arching, hanging plants, bejewelled with golden button blooms from May to October. You’ll finally understand the meaning of the phrase ‘flower power’. This is a unique new species of Calendula, and the shape of basket plants of the future.

 

 

Lily Exotic SunLily ‘Exotic Sun’ – I just love how the exotic buds of this lily open. The best part is that they take their time doing it, unfolding over a few days, meaning you get to enjoy a really theatrical show. They’re such a lovely refreshing lemon yellow too, and this ain’t no shy border lily either, as plants sit at just under a metre tall.

 

 

Geranium-Bug-OffGeranium ‘Bug Off’ – Avoid outdoor mosquito attacks by planting these lemony-scented pelargonium. They’re so neat that they’ll suit table-top pots, and can be on guard for the pesky gnats, and it might well repel wasps too. The summer blooms are like little angels, and really compliment the dinky foliage. I think this plant deserves to be called ‘CUTE’!

 

 

Bidens-BeeDance-Painted-Red Bidens ‘BeeDance Painted Red’ – Pow! There’s no mistaking this bright spark. Over the years, I’ve found that gardeners always love a bicoloured flower. Bred to absolute perfection in Japan, the ‘BeeDance’ Bidens series can easily cope with short periods of drought, or a position in bright, all day sun. You’ll be surprised by the honey scent from each small bloom too.

 




Curcuma-CollectionCurcuma- Siam Tulip – Gardening is often about showing, we know that, let’s all admit it! These Curcuma offer you the perfect opportunity to evoke comment with your friends. Often referred to as the Siam Tulip, these Thai beauties are imported especially. The waxy blooms are very tropical, and last a long time too!

 

 

Ptilotus-JoeyPtilotus ‘Joey’ – How can something that looks so delicate be so easy to grow? One of the most unique discoveries in recent years ptilotus comes from the Australian outback, so has an inbuilt resilience to… well, everything! The fluffy presence of ‘Joey’ will revolutionise your pots.

 

 

Cosmos-EclipseCosmos ‘Eclipse’ – An extra special selection of cosmos atrosanguineus, chosen for its rich, chocolatey fragrance. Yes, you heard that right… chocolate! Aside from the indulgent fragrance, the flowers are near black, and the plants branching, yet compact. In fact, there isn’t anything not to like about this plant.

 

 

Tomato-Tutti-FruttiTomato Tutti Frutti Collection – Now these tomatoes will form part of a fun summer game, as you ask your visitors to guess the flavour. Breeders have selected these fruits, not just for their sweetness, but for their resemblance to a range of unique flavours. You’ll have fun matching up the mandarin and melon flavours. As easy to grow as any tomato, and with thin skins, ensuring a melt in the mouth flavour.

 

 

Kalmia-RubraKalmia ‘Rubra’ – To plug a gap in the border not just this year, but for many years to come, shrubs are very useful. Kalmia is something a little bit different, it needs an acidic soil, but could easily be grown in a big tub of ericaceous compost. The flowers have to be seen to be believed, when I first saw one in real life I was literally stopped in my tracks.

 

 

Begonia-DaffadowndillyBegonia ‘Daffadowndilly’ – It’s a case of confused identity with this new Begonia tongue-twister! Each elegant bloom faces upright and has the shape of a daffodil, albeit in a deep salmon-pink. With a befitting fancy name of ‘Daffadowndilly’, you know this classy new plant will be flying off the shelves, so reserve your tubers now.

Michael Perry
Michael works as Thompson & Morgan’s New Product Development Manager, scouring the globe for new and innovative products and concepts to keep the keen gardeners as well as amateurs of the UK happy!

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