Plant Answers  >  Laura Bush Petunia

Laura Bush Petunia

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'LAURA BUSH' PETUNIA is a reseeding annual, old-fashioned petunia. It is more cold tolerant, disease resistant and heat tolerant than most modern hybrids. The plant has a spreading growth habit with deep violet, medium size flowers. 'Laura Bush' Petunia is the offspring of the 'V.I.P.' petunia (Very Important Petunia or Petunia violacea (Violet In Profusion) This 'V.I.P.' petunia is native to South America. The 'V.I.P.' flower is violet colored and the plant is heat tolerant and low spreading. The 'V.I.P.' plant is known for its profusion of small bell-shaped violet colored flowers. Both dainty and durable, it's one of the parents of all modern petunias. It is a great plant for beds, baskets or barrels. The 'V.I.P.' offspring, 'Laura Bush' petunia, offers just as many colorful blooms but the blooms are twice as large and the plant has larger, darker green foliage which serves as a background to showcase the spectacular floral display.

People always want characteristics in plants which are uncharacteristic of that plant type. For instance, we want citrus trees which produce good tasting fruit and tolerate minus 20 degree F. temperatures; we want tomatoes which will store for months after harvesting, produced on cold tolerant plants; we want flowers to grow in stone and bloom all year; we want petunias to tolerate the hot temperatures of summer and the cold temperatures of winter yet have a multitude of blooms. Why can't these characteristics be incorporated into the plant of our choice? For such wondrous characteristics to be utilized in a plant variety, the desired traits must be genetically inherent in some plant line(s) of that particular species so that, via plant breeding, these traits can be transferred to the ultimate, hybridized super-plant. Many times we want too much, i.e., you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. But in the case of petunias, especially in the case of creating a petunia which tolerates the hot summer temperatures and the cold temperatures of most Texas' winters yet has a multitude of blooms, the Mother ('V.I.P.') of all petunias which fulfills the heat and bloom requirements has been brought from Germany by Greg Grant, former Extension horticulturist, Director of product development for Color Spot Growers, and lecturer at Stephen F. Austin University. This tough little V.I.P. petunia was observed at a horticulture exposition in Stuttgart, Germany in July, 1993.

There are basically five types of petunias: the double Grandiflora, double Multiflora, single Grandiflora which includes the large flowering cascades, single Multiflora, and California giants. The size of the flowers vary anywhere from the smallest of one inch in diameter to five to six inches. In the case of petunias, big IS NOT best! The big blooms of the Grandiflora petunias are showy and look nice in catalogs but they are not durable or practical. The lightest rain or watering will droop and discolor the large Grandiflora blooms. Since the bloom is the focal point of a flower bed, the gardener wants as many beautiful blooms as possible.

Multiflora petunias such as the Carpet series have been the champs -- small, but durable and prolific. Multiflora petunias have medium-sized blooms and lots of them. Multiflora types are more disease tolerant and withstand South Central Texas winters better than other bloom types mentioned. Because 'Laura Bush' is a Multiflora petunia type, it inherits these characteristics which make it durable and beautiful. 'Laura Bush' petunia is the offspring of a chance cross of a single clone of 'V.I.P.' selected from a few seed from Germany and a mixed strain of old-fashion petunia in 1994. The 'V.I.P.' was the female parent and old-fashioned petunia was the male or pollen parent. The seedlings were planted at the San Antonio Botanical Center and on a hot day in June, 1996, 20 selections were made by Greg Grant and propagated by cuttings at Peterson Brothers Nursery. The rooted cuttings were transplanted into a field at the Henry Verstuyft farm in July, 1996, by Bexar County Master Gardeners. The heat of July eliminated over one-half of the selections but some selections were not at all affected by the hot summer temperature. The cold weather (22 degrees F.) of January, 1997, killed the rest -- except for the selection eventually named 'Laura Bush' by Greg Grant at Stephen F. Austin University in April, 1998. It is the most prolific reseeding hybrid petunia ever grown. The development of this petunia was made possible by seed extraction and cleaning technology developed by John Thomas of Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, Texas. Wildseed Farms is the exclusive distributor of 'Laura Bush' petunia seed. Selections have been made which are violet, pink and purple.

The violet color, composed of purple and red pigments, practically glows. According to color expert Ken Charbonnau, Director of Color Marketing at Benjamin Moore Paint Company, the big news in color are purple and blue-violet. In the backyard garden or for patio containers, you may want to create a more relaxing and serene mood by choosing cooler or softer colors which 'Laura Bush' petunia provides.

'Laura Bush' Petunia - Petunia X violacea 'Laura Bush' Reseeding old fashioned petunia with fragrant violet flowers on a vigorous heat tolerant plant.
Sun Exposure: Full Sun
Size: 24" Tall x 36" Wide
Bloom Time: Spring until Frost
Uses: Bedding, containers, or reseeding annual. Note: Bred by Greg Grant and Jerry Parsons in San Antonio, Texas. Commercial Seed Source is Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, Texas.

A Pink 'Laura Bush' seedling has been selected by Jerry Parsons, Extension Horticulturist for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, to add a new color dimension to the already - dynamic 'Laura Bush'. Pink 'Laura Bush' Petunia - Petunia X violacea 'Laura Bush' Reseeding old fashioned petunia with fragrant pink flowers on a vigorous heat tolerant plant.
Sun Exposure: Full Sun Size: 24" Tall x 36" Wide
Bloom Time: Spring until Frost
Uses: Bedding, containers, or reseeding annual Note: Selected and propagated in San Antonio, Texas. Commercial Seed Source is Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, Texas.

A Purple 'Laura Bush' seedling has been selected by Larry Stein, Extension Horticulturist for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, to add a new color dimension to the already - dynamic 'Laura Bush'. Purple 'Laura Bush' Petunia - Petunia X violacea 'Laura Bush' Reseeding old fashioned petunia with fragrant pink flowers on a vigorous heat tolerant plant.
Sun Exposure: Full Sun
Size: 24" Tall x 36" Wide
Bloom Time: Spring until Frost
Uses: Bedding, containers, or reseeding annual
Note: Selected and propagated in San Antonio, Texas. Commercial Seed Source is Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, Texas

GROWING 'LAURA BUSH' PETUNIAS:

Petunias should be planted in full sunlight, if possible, since even the 'Laura Bush' will become spindly and have fewer flowers if grown in the shade. This is not to say that petunias will not tolerate moderate or light shade, but they need a minimum of seven hours of direct sun. The 'Laura Bush' petunia has a trailing habit which can be enhanced by periodic trimming during the growing season. I have mentioned that the 'V.I.P.' petunia is tough but I have not indicated just how TEXAS TOUGH this petunia type really is. Normally petunias planted any later than April in this area NEVER have a chance to bloom before the extreme summer temperatures annihilate plants.

It is generally not necessary to apply any fertilizer before planting. However, one week after the plants have been planted, begin applying fertilizer. Use a slow release fertilizer with an analysis such as 19-5-9 at the rate of 2-3 pounds per 100 square feet of bed area. Be sure to water the fertilizer into the soil and remove any that may have fallen on the foliage of the plants. Apply fertilizer monthly throughout the growing season. Water soluble fertilizer high in analysis such as 20-20-20 may also be used with the first application being made the day the petunias are planted. Apply the water soluble fertilizer as instructed on the container.

'Laura Bush' petunias have another decided advantage over many other plants in that they have relatively no serious insect or disease pest. Aphids may become a problem, but these can be controlled by spraying or dusting the plants with Malathion or diazinon. Slugs also seem to like to feed on petunias and these can be controlled by the use of baits. A good preventive measure for fungus diseases is to avoid watering plants from above and wetting the foliage. This can be accomplished by the installation of drip irrigation tubing in the flower bed before planting. If the plants become contaminated with a fungus disease, pick off the infected leaves or flowers and spray remaining leaves, weekly with a fungicide such as benomyl (Systemic Fungicide), bayleton (FungAway) or Ortho Funginex.

It is also important to remember that petunias don't like water on their flowers. Note that, after a rain, petunias close up and appear to be wilted. So, when you water, use a watering wand or drip irrigation system so plants are watered well at ground level. Once water has touched the flower, it will take several days before it is fully open again. This is especially true of the Grandiflora bloom types.

 

 


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