This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

November 25, 2013

Creating a tropical look with inexpensive petunias

When you think of a tropical garden, you probably think of exotic, expensive plants. Maybe something flown in from far-away Borneo, or something, at great expense. But you can get a tropical look with the least expensive plants, such as the humble petunia.

A tropical paradise is all about creating lush growth. Blooms are a bonus, but it's really not what a tropical look is all about. It's about foliage.

So take a look at the foliage of the petunia. Even without the flowers, it has a wonderful, broad leaf, vining, tropical aspect. You can buy them for real cheap at any garden center in six or eight packs. Don't bother buying them any bigger. Planted with care, and given some water, they will grow like crazy.

This is what you do, dig a hole, add some potting soil, some slow release dry fertilizer (I use Osmocote) and some moisture crystals (a tiny amount). Water well. Then go water some more. Then stand back. Petunias will grow here in the Phoenix area all through the winter, blooming profusely, and will die in the summer. These are annual flowers, so they  live fast and die young. Plant them again in October or November. In fact, they can be planted all winter.

The only maintenance that petunias need is to occasionally pick up the spent blooms, and cut the growth back to keep it from getting "leggy", that is, to keep the plant looking as full as possible. Actually, you really don't need to do anything. That's why they are so popular at commercial buildings, such as resorts. Just put them in the ground and stand back!
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