By Gary R. Bachman, MSU Horticulturist Coastal Research & Extension Center
The Picayune Item
Every spring the home gardener is bombarded with new and improved petunias for the garden and landscape, making it hard to decide which to bring home from the garden center. In my opinion, you simply can’t go wrong selecting any of the Supertunias.
For the past several years, I have been watching and writing about these fantastic garden performers. Whether used as spreading plants in the landscape or as container and hanging basket plants, supertunias have been good performers in Mississippi.
Vista Bubblegum with its clear, bright pink flowers was selected as a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2012. But in reality, all the Supertunia varieties are winners for the home gardener.
Vista Silverberry has silvery-white flowers with delicate magenta veins. Raspberry Blast is a bicolor variety with pink flowers edged in deep violet. One of the more interesting selections is Pricilla, a semi-double lavender flower that has purple veins.
Supertunias simply can’t be beat when grown in containers and hanging baskets. The plants have a mature diameter of at least 24 inches, with some of the selections spreading reaching to an unbelievable 48 inches.
Supertunias also work well in combination containers. Salmon-colored Bermuda Beach Supertunia, variegated ivy and light green Sweet Caroline sweet potato vine make a dynamic combination.
Another combination that is sure to impress is the pink flowers of Vista Bubblegum intertwined with the silvery-white flowers of Vista Silverberry.
One of my absolute favorite Supertunias is Pretty Much Picasso. The flowers are outstanding as their unique, fuchsia petals and lime green edges seem to blend into the foliage. Last year, a Picasso was introduced and was a great performer in the trial beds at Mississippi State University’s Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs. Picasso in Pink has bright pink flower petals edged in lime green like its older cousin.
The best feature of these outrageously flowering plants is the self-cleaning that has been bred into them. Gardeners who have handled many petunias will understand that this means sticky hands are a thing of the past.
Gardeners must meet a couple of regular maintenance needs for optimal growth of their Supertunias.
First, Supertunias are heavy feeders, so keep nutrition levels consistent to maintain continuous flowering. Weekly feedings with water-soluble fertilizer work well. If you want to save a little time in the landscape, apply a controlled-release fertilizer every four to six weeks for similar results.
The second chore not to be neglected is regular watering. While Supertunias tolerate the summer heat, good flowering requires consistent moisture in the root zone. Your plants will not like going through droughty conditions unless you provide supplemental watering.
Grow Supertunias in full sun for at least five to six hours each day to reach their full flowering potential. Try these super performers in your landscape for a vibrant look this summer.