When gardeners talk about catching the wave they have no interest in grabbing a surf board.
Instead the hot topic in the lakes area this summer is gardening with Wave petunias. The trademark hybrid created a plant that offers lots of blossoms and little maintenance. While the plant has been in area greenhouses for a couple of seasons, its slightly higher cost compared to the average petunia made a few flower planters skeptical.
But profuse flowers on plants that require no deadheading -- the removal of dead blossoms that encourages a plant to put energy into new ones -- is winning people over in a big way. The plants are so full that fewer are required, making the price difference less of an issue. And other companies are now coming up with competing versions with their own spin on the name.
The Northwedge greenhouse in Crosslake sold out of the popular Wave petunia about two weeks ago, although the greenhouse still has other competing varieties. Owner Nancy Coch estimates she had more than 1,000 Wave petunias in four-inch pots.
"They really do cover a lot of area," she said. "We have an arbor here with four of the colors in it and pretty soon you aren't going to be able to see the arbor."
There are five Wave colors -- pink, purple, mystic lilac, rose and lavender. Vibrant pinks and purples have been most popular.
Coch said the convenience of the Wave petunias likely will elevate the interest past the fad flower status. And she said new versions of the Wave are expected next growing season that will make the plant an even better one for growers as the plants are expected to be more manageable and a white flower will be added to the list.
Wave petunias, a trademark hybrid, are marked by bright color and profuse blossoms. Other trailing petunia varieties offer gardeners choices for flower beds, hanging baskets and outdoor planters.
"I have a feeling the Waves are going to hang around," she said.
Ak-Sar-Ben Greenhouse and Nursery in Aitkin reported another flower is also popular this year for some of the same reasons the Wave petunias have grabbed the imagination.
Bacopa, a flowering vine in white, blue, purple and pink, is newer than the petunia. Small leaf vines are covered with tiny flowers. Ak-Sar-Ben owner Gretchen Finnerty said the plant is a little like bridal wreath and performs well both in the ground and in planters. Bacopa, an annual, blooms all summer. And Finnerty said the added attraction is a flowering vine that requires no deadheading work.
Coch agreed and said the bacopa was also hardy in the sun.
"We didn't have nearly enough of it," she said of shoppers' interest in the bacopa.
At Northwedge, the only complaint to come in regarding the Wave petunia was that it may be producing too well with a large, well-flowered plant.
Others have been glad to rid themselves of the need to pluck the sticky and shriveled blossoms in order to get a full plant.
Coch said people who are looking for lots of color and flowers with little work on the plant itself other than watering can find it now.
Trailing petunias, such as this Wave variety at Eagle Landscaping Greenhouse and Nursery near Brainerd, create flowing flowers that drape over hanging baskets. The flowers work well with other plants for outdoor planter displays.
"This is kind of the answer to it all," she said. "Everyone wants the Wave."
Wave petunias tolerate heat and drought
Wave petunias work in flower beds, hanging baskets and outdoor planters. The plants are heat and drought tolerant and thrive in dry soils. They grow best in the full sun.
Plants can be spaced 12 to 15 inches apart or closer together -- three inches apart -- for fuller coverage.
The annuals are known for their intense color on three-inch blossoms.
Other petunia varieties exist, including Cascade petunias. Garden centers report those plants do not have to have dead blossoms removed, but it may help the plant. Wave petunias will shed their own blossoms and do not require deadheading to ensure continued flowering.
(Sources: The Northwedge, Crosslake, and Burpee.com.)
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