20 amazing facts about petunia that you might not know
Do you know that in 1803 petunias got their name “in honor” of tobacco? Yes, this plant is a close relative of smoking tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), and in those days in France it was called ‘pétun’. The word "petun" itself comes from the name of the Patagonian tribe Tupi-Guarani and translates as "tobacco." This name was not the first, but final for today's most popular flower. I’ll talk about what else you may not know about petunia in my article.
1. Petunia is good at bouquets
Petunia is an excellent plant for florists, and bunches of petunias are beginning to become fashionable. Petunias can stand in a vase for a very long time (from 6 days to 2-3 weeks), alternately dissolving the formed buds. When grown as a cut crop, these flowers form into a single stem. Basically, for these purposes, large-flowered varieties are grown (for example, "Superbissima") with very large fringed flowers of various colors.
2. Petunias do not seed
Most modern varieties and hybrids of petunias contain the “male sterility” gene. This gene prevents pollen from forming and being tied to seeds, which provides plants with early and long flowering until the first snow. The flower does not spend energy on ripening seeds, but completely gives all its energy to flowering.
Plants with the “male sterility” gene are particularly resistant to temperature fluctuations and tolerate a wide range of values from +40 to -5. Because of this gene, petunias are also very bushy and, with proper care, can reach about a meter in diameter.
3. Petunia is always a hybrid
Since garden petunia is the result of crossing several wild ancestors, the Latin name of this flower sounds like “hybrid petunia”. Therefore, even if you purchase seeds of a variety, not a hybrid, in Latin the name of a petunia will be indicated as hybrid petunia (Petunia x hybrida).
But this does not necessarily mean that varieties of petunias do not retain their parental traits. True, most modern petunias are true hybrids marked (F1).
4. Petunia - the most popular flyer in the world
Petunia is the most popular and best-selling annual flower in the world. Moreover, the most popular among flower growers are ampelous petunias of various colors, which are most often obtained from vegetative material (cuttings). When choosing seeds, flower growers also give preference to seeds of varieties and hybrids of ampelous petunias.
5. What is the earliest petunia?
To date, the earliest hybrid petunia grown from seeds is a novelty named Pendolino. This cultivar takes only 4-5 weeks from picking to flowering. This is a multi-flowered hybrid (minimultiflora) with many medium-sized flowers (2.5-5 cm), resembling a caliber. The series has a variety of colors, including yellow and bright red. Long drooping shoots can reach a length of up to 1 meter.
6. Sizes of flowers of petunias
The smallest flowers (2.5 centimeters) have petunias of the milliflora group. They are usually brightly colored, bloom very profusely and are more resistant to adverse weather conditions than their large-flowered relatives. The most popular varieties: "Picobella", "Pendolino".
The largest flowers have a series of "Superbissima", or Petunia superior. These flowers can exceed 20 centimeters in diameter, they also differ in a characteristic mesh pattern in the center and a wavy fringed edge. Also very large flowers (15 centimeters) in the hybrid Daddy series.
On average, the size of a petunia flower is 6 centimeters.
7. Petunia and caliberhoa are not the same thing.
Calibrachoa received its complex name in honor of the Mexican botanist and pharmacist Antonio da la Cala and Bracho (1764-1833). Initially, petunia and caliberhoa were combined into one genus. However, in 1985, American botanists formally proposed isolating plants into two different genera based on different numbers of chromosomes.
Today, the genus Petunia includes 21 species (14 chromosomes), and the genus Calibrachoa 28 species (18 chromosomes). A different number of chromosomes does not allow representatives of two genera to interbreed. However, at present, laboratories have begun to artificially create hybrids based on petunias and calibrachoes, known as petkhoa. Petchoa propagates exclusively by cuttings.
8. What is “Super Tunisia”?
Supertunias are modern crossbreeding hybrids petunias hybrid (Petunia hybrida) with wild species axillary petunia (Petunia axillaris) These powerful fast-growing and plentifully flowering plants with large flowers and long shoots (up to 2 meters) are ideal for hanging baskets and containers. The series includes eight different colors.
Most varieties of supertunias were created by the large international seed-breeding company ‘Sakata’. Supertunia can be easily grown from seeds.
9. Features of the Nuvolari petunia
One of the popular varietal series of semi-ampet petunias "Nuvolari" was named after the Italian racer Tazio Nuvolari. He is famous for winning the Grand Prix at the German Racing, beating the best German racers in front of Hitler. The appearance of this hybrid was a real breakthrough in the selection of petunias.
And this is due to the fact that earlier petunias were distinguished by a bald middle of the bush, which greatly spoiled the appearance of the plant. Representatives of the Nuvolari series became the first petunias that form young shoots in the center of the bushes. Thanks to this, the plant is a lush cascade densely leafy and covered with many flowers. The hybrid is also resistant to adverse weather conditions.
10. Petunia and surfinia - what are the differences?
Surfinia is the result of crossing a hybrid petunia with wild South American species of petunias with an ampelous type of bush (Petunia pendula). They are distinguished by more elongated leaf blades of dark green color. Varieties of surfinia are represented by five colors: blue-violet, dark violet, lilac, pink and white. Usually plants have fairly large flowers.
Surfinia require baboutlarger volumes of land for good growth, and, unlike petunias, they can “suffer” in small hanging baskets, and in favorable conditions their shoots can reach two meters. Surfinia propagates only vegetatively (by cuttings).
11. Petunia and tomato are relatives!
At present, it is very difficult to imagine that in time immemorial, all nightshade, including tomatoes, potatoes, petunias and many others, roughly speaking, “were one plant” and only later “went their separate ways”. So, scientists argue that petunia emerged as an independent species after the number of its chromosomes tripled as a result of evolution.
Currently, the kinship of petunia and tomato mainly lies in belonging to the same nightshade family, and some botanical traits that only specialists can notice.
12. How does garden petunia surprise nerds?
Botanists expected garden petunia to receive approximately 50% of the genes from each of its parents - Petunia violacea and Petunia axillaris. However, studies have shown that the hybrid petunia genome consists of about 80% of white petunia and only 10% of violacea petunia. The remaining percentage of genes is a mosaic - interwoven fragments of gene sequences from each parent.
By the way, petunia is an excellent material for genetic studies of botanists, and many scientists have created many scientific works based on the study of the genome of petunias. So this flower is not only pleasing to the eye, but also able to serve science.
13. What is the relationship between petunia and peanuts?
Today, almost all commercially available peanuts are genetically modified. Specialists in the field of genetic engineering have implanted the genes of petunia in the peanut genome, thanks to which the "nuts" can be stored for a long time, since they become unattractive to insects.
14. Terry hybrids of petunias are 100% terry!
Initially, terry was an unstable sign in petunias, and double flowers from seeds from terry parents were obtained only in 20-30% of descendants. Breeders took a long time to fix this trait in petunias.
The first terry petunia with constant signs of terry appeared in 1934. All modern terry hybrid petunias that can be grown from seeds form 100% terry flowers. Plants with double flowers practically do not set seeds.
15. Petunias are carnivorous plants!
Sticky hairs on the stems and flowers of petunias, like many other nightshade ones (potatoes, tomatoes, tobacco and some others) are not accidental. When small insects stick to such a coating die and decompose, the plants absorb the nutrients contained in them. So we can say that petunias to some extent belong to insectivorous plants.
16. Are petunias edible?
Petunias are included in the list of flowers whose inflorescences can be used in cooking. As noted, petunia flowers have a sweet and spicy taste, they can be used to decorate fruit salads, or used to prepare various snacks.
According to other sources, petunia flowers are toxic because they belong to the nightshade family. In any case, it is better not to taste the flowers of petunias for people suffering from asthma, allergies or hay fever, and also not to give them to children.
17. Can I smoke a petunia?
As mentioned above, the name petunia comes from the word “tobacco”, but is it possible to smoke its leaves, like tobacco? There is evidence that shamans of some Ecuadorian tribes use smoke from burning leaves of purple petunia in the rituals of their magical practices. However, scientists who studied the leaves of petunias did not find in them any psychotropic substances that can cause states of altered consciousness.
Therefore, either this information - a myth, or a petunia was confused with some other plant. In any case, we are talking about wild species of petunias, and smoking leaves of hybrid petunias makes no sense.
18. Why do petunia gramophone flowers?
The characteristic shape of the petunia flowers in the form of a trumpet or gramophone was “designed” by nature mother to attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Wild violet petunia violacea as pollinators attracts mainly bees and smells significantly in the daytime. And wild white petunia specializes in nocturnal insects (moths and other moths) and smells the most in the evening.
19. Who is Aunt Petunia?
The network sometimes contains the use of the household name "aunt Petunia" in relations between elderly women in a negative context. The female name Petunia, indeed, is found among peoples speaking English and French. Girls began to be called by this name in honor of the flower.
Characters named Petunia are also found in literature and cinema. The most popular - the character of books and films about "Harry Potter" - Petunia Dursl is Harry's mother’s aunt. According to the plot, she treated her nephew badly, because she envied the magic gift of her late sister and the boy himself, in addition, the woman loved to spy on her neighbors. Most likely, calling someone “Aunt Petunia” is a reference to this negative heroine.
By the way, not only women are called petunia. The asteroid, the discovery of which took place in 1921, was also named after the favorite popular flower Petunia.
20. Petunia and magic
The Mayan and Inca Indian tribes believed that the aroma of petunias has the power to drive monsters and spirits from the Underworld. The unbroken buds of petunias were collected and used as components for the preparation of "magic" drinks, which were attributed to magical properties.
According to the folklore of the New Age culture, petunias can grow well and flourish only where there is “positive energy”, and they will languish in places where there is a lot of “negative”.