For bright, all-season bloom, petunias are hard to beat, even though your grandmother probably loved them. They are annuals, meaning that they flower all summer and then die -- unlike perennials, which bloom only for a few weeks but live from year to year. The trumpet-shaped flowers are often pink or purple, but there are varieties in yellow, apricot, red, white and candy-striped. In recent years, breeders have created hybrid varieties with different habits for different purposes, so read labels carefully. Wave petunias, for example, are low-growing and spreading, good for hanging baskets. Supertunia petunias are more compact, good for standing containers. Tidal Wave petunias are taller and bushier and can form a colorful 18-inch-high hedge. Where to plant: In full sun in well-drained soil. To supply nutrients for constant flowering, dig a slow-release fertilizer made to last three to four months into the soil when you plant. Water regularly, more when it's hot. In pots, water even more frequently and sprinkle another dose of fertilizer on the potting mix in late July. Deadhead by pulling off spent blooms. For more flowers, pinch back plants in July when they get scraggly.
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