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Southern Gardening: Superbells Supertunias offer summer beauty


Superbells Supertunias such as these Tropical Sunrise selections have tremendous growth potential and funnel-shaped flowers that add pizazz to the landscape.

Superbells Supertunias such as these Tropical Sunrise selections have tremendous growth potential and funnel-shaped flowers that add pizazz to the landscape. Photo by: Gary Bachman/MSU Extension Service


Dr. Gary Bachman



One thing I dig about the summer season is the selection of annual color available for the garden and landscape. 


I think most of my readers know I really like Supertunias. Besides their tremendous growth potential, I think what I like best are the flower shapes. There's something about a funnel-shaped flower that adds a little extra pizazz to the landscape. 


This year, I'm going to plant more of a hybrid called Superbells. These are tough plants with good summer heat tolerance. 


One of the attributes I like about Superbells is their ability after a rainstorm to recover and perk up faster than many other summer-flowering annuals. These plants look great in containers and hanging baskets, as well as massed in landscape beds. 


I'm really impressed with the range of colors available in Superbells. 


In the past several years, I've grown some pretty outstanding landscape performers. I've had Superbells like Cherry Star that feature bright, cherry-red flowers with a yellow starburst in the center. Lemon Slice is a bright, cheerful yellow with a white, pinwheel-center pattern. Saffron flowers have golden-yellow petals and red artist highlights in the center. 


One of the best selections I've grown was Superbells Pomegranate Punch. This plant has deep, velvet-red petals and an almost black center eye that drew many compliments from around my neighborhood all summer long. This year, I'm growing a new-to-me selection called Superbells Tropical Sunrise that features flowers with a variety of yellow and pinkish-red streaks. 


I greatly appreciate the heat-tolerant flowering of Superbells, especially as petunias start to fade late in the summer in south Mississippi. 


Superbells Supertunias will grow up to 10 inches high, and their trailing and spreading growth will hang over the edges of the container. You can plant Superbells in the landscape, where they will spread up to 48 inches, depending on the variety. 


Make sure your landscape soil is well drained, as these plants don't like wet feet. Raised beds -- which are sort of like growing in a container -- are a must. 


To keep the plants blooming all summer, feed them with a balanced, controlled-release fertilizer; a tablespoon in the planting hole will get the plants off to a good start. Regular applications of water-soluble fertilizer will maintain the nutrition at optimum levels to keep the foliage dark green and the flowering nonstop. 


At planting, use sharp scissors to snip the branches a little bit to encourage full-looking growth. The plants may open up a little bit during the summer, so go ahead and give the plants an overall trim. This pruning will stimulate more growth, so trim any time the plants get a little untidy. Be sure to fertilizer right after these trimmings. 


Start making plans now to include Superbells in your garden and landscape this summer. 


Dr. Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi and hosts Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at [email protected]



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