'Plus Papaya' a stunning new petunia

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If you have longed for a petunia from the "hot" side of the color wheel, then keep your eyes open for the new Potunia called 'Plus Papaya.' It is breathtakingly bold and beautiful, and it will offer that photographic moment for both your landscape and mixed containers.

Potunias were introduced by Dummen from Germany and have been out for a few years. They really fit the name to perfection with a habit that is compact, round and mounding and incredible for baskets or containers as well as the landscape. I've watched petunias for a long time, and nothing quite compares to this orange/coral color of 'Plus Papaya.'

You may be thinking that a petunia is a petunia. If that is so then you really haven't shopped for petunias in a few years, and 'Potunia Plus Papaya' is just one of several new selections that will get your heart racing. Another one to look for is 'Surprise Marine.'

'Surprise Marine' is an intense dark blue, which is one of the most sought after colors in the world of gardening. In fact, if you want blue petunias, you normally have to be among the first shoppers at the garden center each spring. 'Surprise Marine' is spreading, and it would make a heavenly marriage combined with 'Potunia Plus Papaya.'

For an award-winning look, use 'Jade Princess' ornamental millet as your thriller plant. Use at least three. Then let 'Surprise Marine' act as your spiller plant, letting it tumble over the edge. Then plant 'Potunia Plus Papaya' as the colorful filler in between the companions or in the pockets.

'Surprise Marine' would also look stunning with two other outstanding new petunias that are predominately pink. Blue and pink are terrific when grown in combination with each other. The new 'Fantasy Hot Pink' is bold enough that you would enjoy it by itself, but a blue companion would make it even more stunning. 'Fantasy Hot Pink' is coming out from Danzinger in Israel and is almost iridescent, simply shocking in color with white toward the center and a glowing yellow gold throat.

EZ Rider is a new series from Pan American Seed, the company that revolutionized petunias with its Wave series. The 'EZ Rider Rose' is one of five colors in the series. If you can't find 'Surprise Marine,' keep your eyes open for 'EZ Rider Blue,' which is also a deep saturated color. The EZ Rider series is also touted as mounding. They appear more vigorous than the Potunia.

If you are planting smaller petunias in containers or just wanting to repot them in a favorite old world-style urn, make sure your container drains well. Also, remember that the type of potting soil is an extremely important consideration. Select a fluffy, organic potting mix instead of one that is heavy and leads to poor drainage. Petunias in containers or baskets will need to be fed regularly because as you apply water frequently, each dose leaches out nutrients. I like to use a diluted, water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks.

With all of the wonderful new plants, there is no better time to be a gardener. If you haven't tried petunias in a few years, you'll be impressed with both the colors and the level of performance, making them among the best buys for your gardening dollar.


Norman Winter is executive director of the Columbus Botanical Garden, Columbus Ga., and author of "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations Color and Style in the Garden." Contact him at gardenguy2000aol.com.


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