In our area, the petunia is the workhorse of summer annual gardens and pots. New varieties have many new colors, forms and resistance. Who of us hasn't marveled over the "Wave" series when they flow over the sides of hanging pots?
If your ancestors had flower gardens, they probably included the old fashioned petunia multiflora variety. It's one of those plants that almost disappeared in lieu of the newer varieties. After all, who wants a petunia that's leggy, refuses to behave, and only comes in pastel pinks, whites and lavendars? I do! I do!
This heirloom plant variety was abandoned by commercial seed growers and you may only get seeds today from speciality and heirloom flower growers or from friends.
The lovely vines (up to 3 foot) are one of the most fragrant evening flowers you could plant. Fragrance is one of the things bred out of most current hybrids.
This variety blooms all summer, likes lots of sun and self seeds. In most cases, once you have a successful planting, you will have this beautiful heirloom for years. It is recommended they be fertilized (as all potted plants should) but if they are in fertile garden soil, they will do well without additonal fertilizers.
This petunia was usually planted near a porch or entrance. It would lay it's pretty flowers up and over the posts and braces and provide a lovely scent while folks sat on their porches in the evening. Simple pleasures!
An added plus, these plants are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.
Do they have any problems?
To keep blooming, they must be deadheaded occassionally. Pull off the bloom or give them a little haircut with your garden shears. Don't do a month before frost if you want it to self seed.
They also tend to look rather sad after a rainstorm. They will perk up on their own.
They belong to the nightshade family (same as potatoes and tomatoes) and won't grow well near walnut trees.
Towards the end of the season, they may look a little scraggly, but, they're well worth that small issue.
Heirloom and the new varieties isn't an either/or situation. There's a place for both if that's what you like.
Some places where you can find the seeds for sale:
www.SelectSeeds.com - listed as "petunia - old-fashioned climbing"
www.heirloomseeds.com - listed as "petunia old-fashioned vining"
Side Note: The photos are of this heirloom petunia. The seeds came from my late neighbor, Clarence Medley. These two photos show self seeding in our stone walk. I've always wondered how I can do three-hundred things to ensure a plant grows well in all the right conditions and then have something grow in the crack of a stone/brick walk...