Jul 23, 2013
2014: Year of the PetuniaBy Jasmina Dolce

As you may have already heard, the National Garden Bureau recently announced the crops that will be featured in its 2014 “Year of the” program. For annuals, 2014 will be the year of the petunia; for vegetables, it will be the year of the cucumber; and for perennials, it will be the year of the echinacea.

Each year, the National Garden Bureau selects crops that are easy to grow and genetically diverse with a lot of new varieties to choose from. Breeders, growers, brokers and garden centers are encouraged to consider these plants when planning for the 2014 season as the publicity generated from this program is substantial.

Today, I’d like to focus on the petunia. If the numerous new introductions made at the 2013 California Spring Trials are any indicator, it’s no surprise next year will be the year of the petunia! From the traditional tried and true, to the bicolors and tricolors, to the wildly inconsistent, breeders are coming out with improved qualities and unique colors.

Petunias are always a big seller at retail, but will 2014 push sales even further? Will you expand your petunia production next season? Do you plan on capitalizing on the “Year of the” program?

If you’re looking to add new petunias to your lineup, check out these varieties that will be available for the 2014 season.

‘Sweetunia Johnny Flame’ (Dümmen/Red Fox)

This new eye-catcher features a unique star. It features medium vigor, upright growth and is tolerant to various weather conditions.

‘Blue A Fuse’ (Burpee Home Gardens)

Consistently varied, these flowers boast a truly unique color pattern. The striking multicolor blooms combine shades of violet, yellow and white with a deep purple throat.

‘Kermit Baby’ (Westflowers)

Kermit is a new series from the breeder of Crazytunias. They are grower and consumer friendly with pink/rose flowers highlighted with a green edge.

‘Mini Blast Rose’ (Sakata)

A cousin to the popular ‘Raspberry Blast’, this variety is 10 to 12 days earlier to bloom and has a more controlled, mounding habit.

‘Good and Plenty Pomegranate’ (Green Fuse Botanicals)

This new variety maintains a mounded habit that holds its shape, even as containers mature. It performs great in baskets.

‘Moonlight Eclipse Blue with Green Edge’ (Suntory)

A beautiful novelty, Moonlight Eclipse has deep blue violet flowers with a striking light green edge. It flowers early and can be used in various applications.

‘Great Marvel Violet’ (Danziger)

This new variety features unique, eye-catching large flowers. Flowers are light pink to violet with a dark yellow center. It has a semi-trailing habit.

What do you think of these new petunia introductions? Are there any others you’ve seen and/or trialed that you’ll be adding to your production? Let me know! I’d love to hear how you’ll be taking advantage of the Year of the Petunia. E-mail me anytime at [email protected].

– Jasmina

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Jasmina Dolce

Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at [email protected]

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