Plant Answers  >  Petunias do best with fall plantings

Petunias do best with fall plantings

Petunias will be SPECTACULAR this next spring if you plant them this fall or winter. They will reward you with many more blooms and a much longer blooming period in the spring.

Our Texas’ climate is simply ideal for petunias. Our soils seldom if ever freeze. In fact the ground remains warm enough for roots to outgrow the plant’s top growth. Lots of roots mean bountiful blooms in the spring. If petunias are planted in the fall or winter, their root systems will be much larger than the spring-planted flowers -- Even winter plantings out bloomed spring-planted flowers.

Petunias respond best to temperatures in the low 60s becoming bushier for more flowers in the spring especially if roots have outgrown the plant’s top growth. Lots of roots mean bountiful blooms in the spring. Most of the blooms are frozen off of petunias with the first hard freeze BUT THE FOLIAGE REMAINS AND KEEPS ENLARGING THE ROOTSYSTEM.

When getting into the mid-70s, the petunia growth habits vary, but when temperatures climb above 75 degrees and days lengthen, most petunia plants become leggier with fewer flowers. Hot weather takes its toll on most petunias—BUT NOT ALL! 'Laura Bush' Petunia - Petunia X violacea 'Laura Bush' is a reseeding old fashioned petunia with fragrant violet flowers on a vigorous heat tolerant plant. 'Laura Bush' petunia offers many colorful blooms and dark green foliage which serves as a background to showcase the spectacular floral display. It is more cold tolerant, disease resistant and heat tolerant than most modern hybrids.

Where did' Laura Bush' Petunia - Petunia X violacea 'Laura Bush' come from? Creation of a new plant cultivar doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a complex and time-consuming process. The process commonly known as “selection” normally requires:
  • Seeds or tissues from plants with promising and desired characteristics are collected.
  • They are planted and propagated in a nursery to confirm desired traits.
  • Pollen is collected and the different plants are cross pollinated.
  • Recurrent selection of newly propagated plants occurs following the desired traits in multiple generations of harvesting the seeds, replanting, and reselecting to evolve a plant in which the desired traits are common.

Greg Grant, Texas born, a renowned horticulturist, plant inventor, writer, lecturer, and story teller had a passion for old fashioned, heirloom plants and an obsession for developing plants that could survive on their own in the demanding Texas environment. Greg had discovered a tough little “V.I.P.” petunia (Very Important Petunia) at a horticulture exposition in Stuttgart, Germany in 1993. At the time he was director of product development for Color Spot Growers. He brought back seeds from the “V.I.P.” to Texas. Seedlings were germinated from the “V.I.P.” and grown to plants.

Greg Grant, Texas born, a renowned horticulturist, plant inventor, writer, lecturer, and story teller had a passion for old fashioned, heirloom plants and an obsession for developing plants that could survive on their own in the demanding Texas environment. Greg had discovered a tough little “V.I.P.” petunia (Very Important Petunia) at a horticulture exposition in Stuttgart, Germany in 1993. At the time he was director of product development for Color Spot Growers. He brought back seeds from the “V.I.P.” to Texas. Seedlings were germinated from the “V.I.P.” and grown to plants. Greg Grant with Laura Bush petunia selections
Greg Grant with Laura Bush petunia selections

In 1994 pollen was taken from the “V.I.P. petunia and deposited into a white old-fashioned petunia that was provided by Dr. William C. Welch, another of Greg’s Texas A&M AgriLife mentors and Southern Heirloom Garden co-author. Seeds were harvested from the old-fashioned petunia mother, and seedling offspring were germinated combining the genetic traits of the old-fashioned petunia mama and the “V.I.P” papa plants. They were planted in the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

On a hot day in June 1996, 20 selections of the plants were collected by Greg Grant and propagated from cuttings by Dr. Jerry Parsons at the Peterson Bros. Wholesale Nursery in San Antonio. The rooted cuttings were transplanted to the Verstuyfts vegetable farm near Von Ormy, Texas. Earlier generations of Verstuyfts had been flower growers in Belgium. By July more than half the plants had been eliminated by the summer heat and a frigid January norther finished off the rest, except for 3 plant selections. Dr. Parsons, collected seeds from the 3 surviving selections, propagated, replanted, and subjected them to continued field torture and reselection.

By the spring of 1998, little multiflora ‘Jr. Petunia’ with the large and plentiful glowing violet blooms; super hearty enough to withstand the harsh Texas environment, was ready for its debut. The newly named ‘Laura Bush’ petunia, by this time 5 years in the making, would be the showcase for the recently renovated Nacogdoches town square and the name sake for the Texas First Lady.

Greg Grant has introduced more than 50 plants: roses, phloxes, salvias, verbenas, gardenias, petunias and others. In his own style he names his newly developed plants for friends, colleagues, grandparents, beloved dogs and names on cemetery headstones. So why not name an old fashioned, true from seed, fragrant violet bloomer after one of the most respected First Ladies of our time!



PAM SOMERS of Canyon Lake, Texas writes in September, 2021:

I HAVE BEEN GROWING LAURA BUSH FOR MANY YEARS. THEY COME UP EVERYWHERE AND ARE SO HARDY. THE ONE PICTURE IS FROM ONE OF MY 4’X8’ VEGETABLE BEDS. AFTER THE SEEDS HAVE FORMED AND SEED POD OPENS, A GREAT NUMBER OF SEEDS STICK TO THE LEAVES AND STEMS [WHILE MANY FALL ON SOIL FOR GERMINATION NEXT SEASON]. I TRIM THEM AND PUT CUTTINGS INTO A LARGE PLASTIC GARBAGE CAN, LET THE CUTTINGS COMPLETELY DRY OUT [A MONTH OR TWO], THEN VIGOROUSLY SHAKE THE SEEDS TO THE BOTTOM OF CAN, REMOVING SHAKEN STEMS. I KEEP WORKING THE CHAFF OFF OF THEM AND SIFT MY SEEDS THROUGH MY KITCHEN MESH STRAINER. I ENDED UP WITH A LITTLE MORE THAN 4 OZ LAST YEAR 2020. I WILL KEEP DEADHEADING/TRIMMING MY POTTED LAURA BUSH TO KEEP THEM COMING BACK BEAUTIFUL AGAIN AND AGAIN.


Reseeding 'Laura Bush' Petunia decorating garden  near Canyon Lake, Texas
Reseeding 'Laura Bush' Petunia decorating garden
near Canyon Lake, Texas
Reseeding 'Laura Bush' Petunia grown by Pam Somers
Reseeding 'Laura Bush' Petunia grown by Pam Somers
Indivilual Plant of Reseeding 'Laura Bush' Petunia grown by Pam Somers
Indivilual Plant of Reseeding 'Laura Bush' Petunia
grown by Pam Somers
Reseeding 'Laura Bush' Petunia at Pam Somers near Canyon Lake, Texas
Reseeding 'Laura Bush' Petunia at Pam Somers
near Canyon Lake, Texas


The ‘Laura Bush’ Petunia was immediately submitted to extensive field testing in four regions of the state. By the end of 1999, it was certified as a Texas Superstar which means it will show superior performance under Texas tough growing conditions in the Earth-Kind™ landscape.

It is reported that the ‘Laura Bush’ Petunia flourished at the Washington, D.C. Whitehouse as well at other State executive residences, and in gardens at Camp David, Maryland, as well as at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, which would indicate that it can also be hearty in cooler more humid climates. Dr. Jerry Parsons subsequently “selected” a pink variety which is available from Wildseed Farms Wildflowers near Fredericksburg, Texas (‘Laura Bush’ Petunia Pink – 8860) Regular price $3.19

Both colors are available from John Thomas’ Wildseed Farms (www.wildseedfarms.com) in Fredericksburg, Texas. The availability of ‘Laura Bush’ Petunia selections is the first time that a reseeding, old-fashioned petunia seed have been available for sale.

Wildseed Farms
‘Laura Bush’ Petunia - 8882
Regular price $3.19 per package



The Wildseed Farms Catalog at:
https://www.wildseedfarms.com/products/laura-bush-petunia?_pos=1&_sid=4ae16d8ec&_ss=r&variant=33577323524 reads:


Petunia X violacea (Solanaceae)
A hardy, reseeding annual variety native to South America. This rugged old-fashioned petunia variety was bred for heat tolerance and disease resistance. The Laura Bush Petunia scoffs at extreme summer temperatures, producing numerous 1 - 1 ½ inch bell-shaped violet colored flowers. As the mercury rises in the dog days of summer, this baby literally cranks out the blooms. As an added bonus the dark green foliage serves as a background to compliment the vibrant flowers that practically glow. Prefers full sun in well drained, fertile soil. Very low maintenance and quite impressive!

Direct sow in early spring after the danger of frost has passed.

Suggested Use: Wooded barrels, borders, hanging baskets.

Miscellaneous Use: Flowers are delightfully fragrant. Reseeds. If started in flats, space transplants 12 inches apart. Soil temperatures below 68°F will limit germination response. Requires a minimum of 7 hours of direct sun or plants will become spindly and have fewer blooms.

Average Planting Success: 70 percent
Height: 8 - 24 inches
Germination: 15 - 30 days
Optimum Soil Temp. for Germination: 68 degrees F. – 86 degrees F.
Sowing Depth: Surface Sow
Blooming Period: April - First Frost
Average Seeds Per Pound: 6,549,000
Seeds/Pkt: 200 Covers 30 sq.ft.
1 ounce covers 2,723 square feet
Seeding Rate: 1 pound per acre


Original field planting at Verstuyft Farms on July 16, 2001
Original field planting at Verstuyft Farms on July 16, 2001
Original field planting at Verstuyft Farms with Cosmos
Original field planting at Verstuyft Farms with Cosmos
Pink Laura Bush
Pink Laura Bush
Pink Laura Bush petunia with moth
Pink Laura Bush petunia with moth
Pink Laura Bush petunia on May 16, 2001
Pink Laura Bush petunia on May 16, 2001
Pink Laura Bush petunia on May 23, 2001
Pink Laura Bush petunia on May 23, 2001
  Pink Laura Bush petunias on May 3, 2005, in San Antonio
Pink Laura Bush petunias on May 3, 2005, in San Antonio
 
Pink Laura Bush Petunia harvest on June 20, 2005
Pink Laura Bush Petunia harvest
on June 20, 2005
Laura Bush petunia at President George Bushs Crawford Ranch
Laura Bush petunia
at President George Bush's Crawford Ranch
Left to Right -- John Thomas, Greg Grant and Jerry Parsons
Left to Right -- John Thomas, Greg Grant,
and Jerry Parsons


 


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