Whether they are old-fashioned or modern varieties, the petunia scent is breath taking.

Each of the Petunia Varieties Have Their Charm

A colorful and scented petunia carpet in my garden attracts not only the butterflies, moths and bees, but also catches all neighbors' eyes and noses, while walking on the street. Whether they are old-fashioned white and pink petunias or the gorgeous modern variety red Supertunia, they are all very much admired. I've grown several modern varieties and also, old-fashioned petunias. However, the old-fashioned ones have lasted in my garden and that is because they reseed faithfully each season. Now I don't have to pay about $1.00 for a modern petunia variety seed. I'm joking, of course, but I did pay a lot of money (as much as a whole petunia plant) for only 5 seeds of Supertunia red. This was before the garden centers started to grow petunia hybrid transplants, so now I don't need to start my own petunias from seeds anymore. However, I like to do that every year anyway and that's why I have hundreds of petunia plants growing from seeds by reseeding - more than enough for my garden, so I can give away some of them to my friends and neighbors. But I can't do the same with the modern petunia hybrids, which don't make as many seeds as the old-fashioned ones -sometimes they don't make any, all summer long. That's why I lost each of them, after growing them for a year or two. If it were only for the fragrance they emit, I wouldn't want to have any other than the old-fashioned petunias, but the spectacular modern hybrids are so beautiful that I can't keep myself from buying a new one every summer.

These old-fashioned, open-pollinated petunias will reseed for years.

Red Supertunia ten flowers in my garden close-up

A Few Facts about Petunias

Not only are the modern petunias hybrids, in fact the old-fashioned petunias were also made by hybridization between the South American native species, Petunia integrifolia and Petunia axillaris. Therefore, the Latin name of all petunias is Petunia x atkinsiana or Petunia x hybrida and that includes both old-fashiond and the modern varieties. All of them have the same trumpet shape flower, but most of the modern hybrids' blooms have two colors in different patterns, such as star, dots, stripes, eagle, borders or they are double. I like mostly the cascading and trailing petunias, which catch the eye with the luxurious trailing full of blooms.
Some are calling the old-fashioned petunias 'heirloom grandmother's petunias' and 'old fashioned vining', yet those are still more fragrant than all modern varieties. They emit their fragrance at dusk to attract the moths which are their favorite pollinators.
As for the modern varieties, some don't have any fragrance at all, yet their beauty is breath taking.

Old fashioned pink and white petunia carpet in my garden

Modern Petunia Hybrids I Grew over the Years

I've grown several modern petunia hybrids and I've managed to reseed them for several years, until they didn't come back from seeds anymore. As I could see from a brief research, they have different names on different websites, but the pictures tell everything. The University of Minnesota divides petunias in 4 simple categories, based on the flower size and growing habit : Grandiflora have the largest flowers, Multiflora have the greatest number of flowers, Milliflora have the smallest flowers and the Spreading variety, also called 'wave', which can fill large spaces.

Petunia multiflora in a mixture of colors is a great way to add some zing to your garden.

Wave star like white and pink petunias in boxes on my balcony close to dracaena, ivy, geranium,
I had the most beautiful red Supertunia, which I managed to grow from its own seeds for several years. A red carpet of Supertunia in the middle of the white datura flowers or as border, has a great visual effect.
The white and red striped petunias also managed to thrive in my garden, next to the old-fashioned white, pink and violet petunias. Then, I had the gorgeous purple surfinia, which was supposed to be perennial, growing in a hanging basket on my balcony. I tried to propagate it from cuttings and I succeeded, but only for a summer and then, somehow, I lost it. The last one was in this hanging basket, next to two Grandiflora purple and red ruffled edges petunias.

Purple and red petunias in a hanging basket on the balcony
I had the beautiful wave hybrid white and pink star-like petunias, which have reseeded for several years, but none came back in the same shape as the previous since they were hybrids. The white and pink colors were present, but the flowers didn't look alike, some had a white star in the middle. Hybrid are like that. You may get the seeds to sprout, however the flowers may not look like the parent.

Star-like white with purple star in the middle wave petunia blooms close-up
More and more petunia modern hybrids come out in the garden center lately, but when I see one I like, this nagging question comes to my head: should I take it or leave it? I can't help myself to think that it will thrive for a summer and then it will die back without making seeds - and then, I will suffer. Are you also that close bonded with your petunias?