Some of my favorite summer flowering annuals are petunias. I like petunias because they tolerate our hot and humid Mississippi summer weather very well.
There are great selections of petunias available in the garden centers, but I have to admit that I’m partial to Supertunias. These plants have never failed to be great performers in my home landscape.
There are about 40 unique Supertunia varieties that can work in almost any color scheme and garden space, with flower colors ranging from pure white to deep, royal purple. These plants make great companions in mixed containers and grow well in raised bed plantings.
Supertunias are heavy feeders and should have controlled-release fertilizer applied at planting. For the best growth and flower production, feed these plants on a regular basis. I prefer using a water-soluble fertilizer when I water the plants.
My main Supertunia crush is Vista Bubblegum.
Vista Bubblegum has flowers that are a clear, bright pink, and these plants perform well in Mississippi gardens. They are vigorous, with a 3-foot spread that can reach up to 24 inches tall. Vista Bubblegum is also a good choice for containers and hanging baskets where the flowering branches and shoots can cascade over the edge.
The growth of this plant is so reliable that it was chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2012. If you’ve been to any of my presentations, you know I like to show proof that Vista Bubblegum can be seen from space.
One reason I like the Supertunias is the fact they are self-cleaning, which means flowers drop off as they fade. This is much different than older varieties that need to be deadheaded. I have nightmares from my youth of having really sticky fingers after deadheading my mom’s petunias.
A great reason to grow Supertunias has to be how these plants respond to our summer rains. These plants will be droopy afterwards, but quickly recover as soon as the sun comes back out.
My home landscape experience with Supertunias is that they will start to look a little tired and scraggly by mid-summer. This is a great time to do a little tidying up. You can use a pair of sharp scissors or pruners to cut them back by one-third.
This is also a time when fertilizing is a must to help the plant regenerate new foliage and flowers to finish the summer season. I like to apply a good slow-release fertilizer, or a couple of applications of water-soluble fertilizer also work.
Always plant your Supertunias in full sun for the best flowering. Don’t let the plants dry out and start to wilt, as this will shut off the flowering for up to a couple of weeks. This is where having a drip irrigation system is very useful.
Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. Contact him at email@example.com.