Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sweet Supertunia

For years I've dissed Petunia. Sure she's pretty in a show-offy, teen age prom queen kind of way, but she doesn't age well. Without daily deadheading, Petunia fades fast. I've never used her in my own gardens or my clients' gardens, and I've tried to dissuade students from planting her, stressing her high maintenance nature.

This year, the folks at Proven Winners sent me three pots of Supertunias. (I think this is where I'm supposed to say that I received the plants as free samples and that no money was exchanged for what I'm about to say. Is that right?) I was skeptical, but the saturated, fruity color of Supertunia Watermelon Charm was more than I could resist, so I added them to a client's garden overlooking Central Park West.

(This will be a riot of color when the hardy hibiscus bloom and the mandevilla vines climb.)

In four of the coolest, wettest weeks I can remember as a gardener, each plant has tripled in size. But here's the clincher: they are not leggy and the spent blooms pretty much fade away into nothingness. Can you see a dead flower here?

How about now?

These images were taken prior to deadheading.

My main Petunia objection has always been the way the dead flowers linger on the plant accusingly, asking (with considerable attitude) why I haven't been more conscientious in my maintenance work. (Do I need that kind of pressure from a Petunia?) I try to visit this particular client once a week, but sometimes it's 10 days between maintenance calls, and I need to know that the plants I use won't look shaggy and neglected after an extra day or two.

Yes, the Supertunia flowers are smaller than straight Petunia flowers and yes, this is undoubtedly one of the reasons the spent blooms are less obvious. Is that a problem? Hardly. The rich color and abundance of bloom more than compensate for the somewhat smaller flower size.

We'll see how they fare as we head into summer. At this point I'm highly optimistic and ready to take back all those nasty things I said about the prom queen.


Unknown said...

Love your comments...such attitude makes me smile. Now to pick up a petunia. lol

Sweetgum Thursday said...

Sounds like a good client and a good performer for them and your maintenance needs. Made a mental note. Thanks.

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