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Petunia With Pizazz

It is hard to imagine any summer garden without one or more flowering petunias. Trailing or mounding, modern petunias don’t require constant deadheading as they once did, and they continue to bloom all summer with very little maintenance.

PETUNIAS COME IN ALMOST EVERY COLOR, BUT A GOOD ORANGE PETUNIA never seemed to find its way to our gardens until now. ‘African Sunset’ petunia is a beautiful orange that will spice up your annual beds or container plantings. The vigorous plant is said to have strong flower petals that help the 2-2-1⁄2-inch flowers stand up to high humidity, heavy rains, and overhead irrigation.

AFRICAN SUNSET PLANTS CAN GROW UP TO 14 INCHES TALL and more than 32 inches wide. Young plants will appear more mounding, but develop a slight trailing or spreading habit as they grow and summer progresses. This makes them equally excellent when planted in the ground, in containers, or in hanging baskets. 

ALL PETUNIAS RESPOND WELL TO ADEQUATE MOISTURE, but still need good drainage. Fertilize plants once or twice a month with a well-balanced fertilizer, regardless of their planting location. This helps to encourage plant vigor and lush flowering all summer. Full sun is needed to produce dense plants and prolific blooms.

PLANT AFRICAN SUNSET ALONE OR MIX IT with other sun-loving annual flowers for a bright and beautiful display. It is a 2014 All-America Selections Bedding Plant Winner, shown below, so it may be a little hard to find this first year, but will certainly be worth the search and you will be rewarded with flowers from May until fall frost.

SHELLY NOLD is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207. 


by Angie McManus

Q My son and I are getting into organic gardening and want to plant some perennial vegetables like ground nuts and sunchokes, among a few. Do you know where we can get some starts of perennial vegetables and herbs here in Kentucky?  

A Planting perennial vegetables and herbs is a great way to provide your family and maybe some lucky friends with fresh, local food, and it is fun, too. Here in Kentucky, asparagus, rhubarb, garlic, Greek oregano, thyme (Thymus vulgaris), and rosemary (Rosmarinus officionalis ‘Arp’) are all considered perennial edibles. The herbs can be a bit tricky since there are many nonperennial varieties of mainly rosemary and thyme, so just be sure to purchase perennial varieties. 

Perennial fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, figs, apples, pears, and pawpaws may be a thought for next year. 

As for finding a local source for starts of some of these edibles, I would start at your local garden centers or farmers’ market. The agriculture/horticulture agent at your Extension Office may have suggestions for local options as well. Peanuts are considered ground nuts but all other nuts are actually tree nuts and many of them are hardy for us. 

For more information on growing edibles in Kentucky, download the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture’s 46-page Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky. 

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