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Growing Petunias From Seed

Wednesday November 7, 2018


Petunias are one of those plants where varieties can be found to fit almost any sunny site in the landscape - mounding varieties for borders and mass planting to trailing types for window boxes, planters and hanging baskets. As an added bonus, the flowers of many varieties have a sweet, subtle fragrance!  For those gardeners who like to have the enjoyment and satisfaction of growing their own transplants, OSC offers a multitude of easy to grow petunia varieties in colours and forms to fit every need.

 

     Petunia seed is quite small (approx. 10,000 seed per gram).  In our case, we supply coated seed to make it easier to see and handle as well as to supply a small amount of built in fertilizer.   About 8 to 10 weeks before you plan to plant outside, it is time to start the seed inside. Fill containers with a soil-less growing medium and tamp it down gently to form a flat surface.  Place the seed on the prepared surface and then gently press it into the growing mix until the seed is surrounded by the mix but not covered by it.  To prevent dislodging or burying the seed, water using a gentle spray or set the container in water and allow it to soak up from the bottom until you see the surface of the growing medium darken.  Keep in mind that the coasting needs to dissolve completely to prevent delaying germination.  Set the container in a warm 21-23C (70 to 74F), bright area and wait for nature to take its course - make sure the growing medium doesn't dry out in the meantime.  Applying bottom heat is beneficial at this time.  Seed generally germinates in 10 to 14 days.  

Seedlings need bright light to develop properly, so place them in a sunny window or better still grow on under lights set on 16 hour days. When the seedlings have developed the second set of true leaves, transplant them into their own container - 4 pocket cell packs are ideal. Some of the running varieties, such as the wave family will benefit from being moved into larger, individual 10cm (4”) pots.  Use 10-52-10 water soluble fertilizer every two weeks from this time on until the plants go outside to help them develop strong root systems. 

 

Petunias flower best in full sun but will also tolerate half day sun as long as a chunk of it is in the afternoon.  After hardening off, plant out in the garden after the danger of frost has passed.  To lesson transplant shock, do this on a cloudy day or late in the day then water the plants in well.  Due to their somewhat succulent nature, petunias should never lack for water so check them daily when growing them in planters or hanging baskets.    
   Here’s a few growing tips - apply water to the soil under the plants to help prevent damaging the flowers.  Some varieties, when left to their own devices, develop long, almost leafless stems with just a few leaves and all the flowering at the ends (this is sometimes referred to as laddering).  To prevent this, pinch off the growing tips of the stems every now and then through the season to encourage new branching from back down the stem.  Another more severe technique is to shear off about half of the growth in the middle of the summer – while the effect is drastic, it does encourage thick second growth. 
 

 


Posted by:
Randy McNamee at 7:36 PM

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