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How to plant petunias

Petunias can be really easy to grow if you pick varieties that require little care.

DENVER — Deadheading petunias is a time-consuming bore. Growing petunias shouldn't be as hard as some people make it. The key is finding vigorous varieties that require little care.

The game changer in growing petunias happened about a decade ago with the introduction of the variety 'Bubblegum.' It's quite vigorous but more importantly, it's sterile. The flowers don't produce seed and so they don't need deadheading. The spent flowers fade away unobtrusively. 

Other "supertunias" that are similar to 'Bubblegum' include sister varieties such as 'Vista Fuchsia,' 'Bermuda Beach' and 'Royal Velvet.' They are vigorous and, being sterile, don't require deadheading.

To make a great display, pinch out the last quarter of an inch on each stem at planting time. This will encourage the plant to be fuller and bushier with many more flowers.

Petunias do best in sunny conditions and with frequent applications of a bloom booster fertilizer. 

Petunias are of little interest to Japanese beetles. Nor are geraniums, verbena and lantana. This invites creative combinations. You can't go wrong with the 'thriller, filler and spiller" formula of container planting. 

Although it appears to be safe to plant many favorite annuals such as petunias, verbenas and geraniums, consider holding off on the most tender. Give it just a bit more time to warm up before planting coleus, marigolds and zinnias. The soil is still too cool and damp to plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn, beans and squash. Wait until the nights are staying reliably above 50 degrees. 55 or 60 is even better. Garden by the weather, not by the calendar. 

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