Help - Petunias came back everywhere

ljes1686(8 Louisiana)March 22, 2006

Last year I planted 3 small Petunias in the front corner of the bed next to my walkway. These soon filled in nicely to cover the entire corner of the bed, and they flowered all summer and fall. They died in the winter though, so that area was bare. I also had a hanging basket of petunias hanging on my porch.

I was very surprised that this spring the Petunias have come back. The entire corner is covered with petunia's green foliage and its making deep pink flowers already.

I had another surprise though. I have petunias coming up all over in the bed beside my porch. They're coming up in patches in between and under the other plants in that bed. They are flowering already in deep pink, light pink and lavendar. I have never planted any petunias in this bed. Did these come from the hanging basket that was hanging on the porch a few feet away from this bed? The hanging basket contained the same deep pink petunias that I planted by the walkway - no other colors, so I'm not sure how I got other color varities.

I just wanted to ask if petunias usually come back? I thought since they were annuals that I planted in Spring 2005 that I would need to replace them in Spring 2006.

Does a hanging basket of petunias cause patches of petunias to grow in the area the next year? I threw that hanging basket away before the summer was even over last year. This is just my 2nd year of gardening, so I'm still trying to learn how all this works. Please help.

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putzer(z4 WI)

Look at it as a gift :)

Last year, I had a white petunia growing in the crack of a brick walkway-it did wonderfully! They are considered annuals in my zone, but sometimes will reseed.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2006 at 11:31PM
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Where I come from, in the cold, cold NorthEast, Petunia Problems like the one you just described would be paradise indeed! If an annual plant like a petunia gives you a new plant the following season, it's because the new plant came from a seed from last year's plant. That little seed just drifted down between some leaves, covered up by some old grass or soil and when the temperature and sunlight was just warm enough to give that little seed a "tickle", then germination occurred. In the meantime, just the right amount of rain fell, which made for nice absorption by the seed coat. Not only did your seedlings germinate on their own (known as volunteers) but continued to grow on to maturity to give you all different colored petunias. You are one lucky son-of-a-gun. You will be a natural gardener! You can grow flowers where you didn't even plant anything! Sheez. What's gonna happen when you DO plant something? Stand Back! Lookout! The different colors occur when the flowers get visited by bees, then these same bees go on to other flowers (known as pollinization or fertilization, i.e. plant sex!). The pollinated flower can then produce seeds. These seeds have been hybridized by the bees. Therefore, you get different colors than what you had the season before! You gotta love this gardening stuff. You get flowers, you get bees, you get plant sex. What's not to like? :-) Happy Gardening and keep readin these forums.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 2:43PM
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LindaMA(MA z5)

I would love it if my petunias from last year suddenly came back again this year. Yes, consider youself lucky and enjoy!


    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 1:44PM
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Sometimes mine do and sometimes the don't. Lucky you! :)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 8:42PM
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josie_z6b(z6b Philly)

Petunias are tender perennials. They act like annuals in most of the country but, in addition to seeding, if they aren't ever frozen to death they will, like Arnold, "be baaack."

I bring mine in the house like pelagoniums. In your climate and maybe in the particular shelter of your yard, they didn't even need that. I simmer with jealousy, lol.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 4:12PM
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rivers1202(Z8a South Carolina)

GREAT! I'm not the only one! LOL
I had the exact same thing happen to me. I have loads of white and pink petunias growing out in my driveway bed, that I DID NOT plant. I planted Blue Wave petunias in that bed last year...they came back this year with their friends, the pinks and the whites. And this didn't just happen with the petunias....I've got snapdragons in that bed that I've never seen before. Last year I planted snaps in that bed which were a deep fuschia color - this year the fuschia didn't come back, but now I have these very tall white snaps in there and I didn't plant them. I'm not complaining - they're gorgeous. So are the volunteer petunias. Just pull up the plants you don't want, and make sure you dead-head the spent blooms on the plants you keep. I pulled Blue Wave petunias out of my foundation bed last year because I couldn't keep up with the dead-heading - those things are extremely prolific bloomers. I've noticed a few volunteers this spring in that particular bed, but it's nothing compared to the number of volunteers I have in the driveway bed...prompt dead-heading is the key.
Enjoy your blooms!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 4:48AM
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migardengeek(Z5 MI)

Wow, stop torturing us Michiganders with this story. Volunteer petunias!!!!???? This is to die for.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 9:06PM
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I haven't had petunias reseed, but I did have something strange happen with them last summer. I planted only white petunias, and they bloomed beautifully for several weeks. Then I added a red dianthus next to them, and several weeks later some of the new blossoms that grew on the petunias had pink streaks on them. I don't know if they were cross pollinated, or if the petunias just suddenly started showing some of their recessive genes. Whatever it was, it was strange.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 4:24PM
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When I first read about Petunia's coming back I was amazed. Well, I'll be darned, it has happened to me in my strawberry pots. I have yet to see it flower but I am sure the foilage is from the petunia's I had planted in there last summer.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 1:37PM
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ditto what MI Gardengeek said...

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 3:51PM
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tygerlilli(z6 NJ)

I found this thread by doing a google search on this very topic! I've been planting my annuals, and trying to spruce up the yard. I took down two baskets that held glorious petunias last summer. Those baskets have been hanging on the deak all year through snow, ice, and cold. Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to see that both baskets are filled with baby petunia plants! This evening I pulled out the dead growth, added in some fresh potting soil and plant food and hung the baskets back up.

I had no idea that petunias occasionally grew back. Flowers are just so cool! :)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 7:57PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I'm in Zone 5. I don't have volunteer petunias (I just WISH) but I have hordes of volunteer snapdragons. I've always had a few but this year, holy cow! None have bloomed yet. But since I had all different colors and both short and monster tall varieties last year, I'm expecting a very wild demonstration in the possibilities of plant crosses soon. I have volunteer tomatoes too.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 1:28AM
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I had volunteer petunias this year also. I live in Regina,Saskatchewan where the winters get quite cold but this year I have a whole section of my flower bed loaded with petunias that planted themselves. When they first started growing I asked my mother if she'd ever heard of volunteer petunias and she and my sister told me I was nuts!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 9:19PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

I very often have volunteer petunias if I am not a good dead header for a few weeks. Some cultivars reseed with fertile seeds better than others. And amazingly, you will find that the volunteers re seed very well indeed. But in several generations they will all turn to leggy lanky muddy pihkish plants.....that's why people make money growing hubrids.
I have even had impatiens re seed.
Not to mention, snaps, zinnias, mariglods, cosmos annual asters and cleome.
Linda C

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 1:22AM
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I've had wave petunias reseed for years. Last winter we got down to minus 12 for a few nites and that didn't seem to stop them. I've learned to thin them out. I used to hate to do that, but with so many reseeding, I had to or they didn't look good after crowded. For the past 5 years I've had the annual salvia 'Victoria Blue' reseed so I haven't had to buy any. I've had other annuals reseed and I love it. They usually take a little longer to flower than the ones I bought, but they catch up really fast.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 4:54AM
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leecb(5 MA)

I have two whiskey barrel planters that I dont fuss over much, usually I just plant whatever cheapie annuals I can find (usually Petunias). Last year I had dark pink, light pink and purple Petunias along with some Pansies (which reseeded).
This year I put in some pink African Daisies and red and yellow million bells.
This past month I was watering the plants and took a closer look at one of the barrels. What I had thought was part of the African Daisy was really a nice fat Petunia plant.
The flowers are very pale pink, very similar to the African Daisies and certainly healthy.
Could not believe it. I had worked the soil pretty good before planting this year too.
AND just yesterday I was wandering around the yard and saw a pink thing poking up through a crack in the driveway. It turned out to be the cutest 3 inch tall Petunia with a flower the same color as the one in the barrel. The flower is bigger than the silly plant.
I have no idea how the heck it got there, it's at least 15 ft away from the nearest planter. I must have mowed the poor thing at least 20 times this year too.
So......Petunias do indeed come back whenever and wherever they feel like.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 2:46AM
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I have volunteers every where. (perhaps tomorrow I'll learn how to post a picture). 4 years ago I used to dead head the petunias on my deck and pitch the spent flowers "over the side." The next year, this particular bed was the last one to be tended, and I just decided to let them go. They didn't come up until at least early june even in MD. I 've amazed at the different colors each year, guess I can name one beautiful pink one with an outer ring of white after myself. The trick is to NOT mulch over where you think they will come up (including where you planted last year). I even have them coming up thru ajuga, I just let them go and when the get too leggy I cut them all back, and within a week they are blooming again. I don't mess with deadheading as I want to keep the show going next year. I even had a pot I was not using this year, sprout seeds quite late--like mid June. I just watched! I had this happen to a few million bells this year, but they pretty much look like their parents. Its great not to be neat! Faye in MD

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 2:10PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Remember that high school biology class you had a long long time ago, (or maybe not so long for all of you) where you learned about some ancient monk who worked with poppies(?) cross pollinating one color with another? REmember? He learned that some colors are recessive and some dominant, so even though you might have a white petunia, there still may have been a red great grandmother in his lineage somewhere a generation or two back? Well, that's why you're getting multi colors of volunteers. The original petunias you planted were hybrids: two, three, four different kinds that had been crossed and recrossed to get a variety of specific traits, especially bigger blooms and more resistance to disease. When those hybrids re-seed the next year, you get seedlings that begin to revert back to the hybrid ancestry. Voila! Variety!

Now, if you plant an old-fashioned type of petunia, say, integrifolia (I think it's actually an ancestor of the Wave petunias), you get smaller flowers, but you get the same kind of plant every year. With hybrids, you'll get multi colors, multi sizes, and who knows how strong, they'll be.

I planted petunia integrifolia about four years ago in pots. It seeds everywhere, and every year, I have more of them come up, especially in those same pots. They come up in the spring, burn out by July, and then come up again by late summer and bloom through the fall. Up north, you probably don't have a long enough summer season for all this to be accomplished. I know that sounds great to you northerners, but I have just received my fourth power bill in excess of $300 this year and we have one or two more months of this heat to go. It's a mixed blessing. Believe me! (On the other hand, your heating bills are high and go on forever too. Oh, yeah. I'd rather live here! :)

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 3:39PM
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Not only did I get petunias, I got ageratum in several lovely shades, calendula, butterfly bush, alyssum and tomatoes. The petunias were smaller flowered than their parents, one group with white flowers and another with purple stars.

Now I have a garden thug - tomatoes! They reseeded everywhere I added compost; I have never had this happen as much before. Guess the compost didn't cook enough, and the weather was warmer here last winter.

Maple seeds sneak around everywhere, but I expect that. The rest were surprises, mostly well-behaved (not those tomatoes!)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 11:11AM
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I'm in zone 3, I'd be kicking my heels in joy if that happened in my yard! The volunteers I do get I love, and it's so easy to pull if it's in a really bad spot. My neighbor had a petunia reseed in a crack between her paving stones, and it looks so perfect growing there. Her garden is very sheltered, that's the only reason I could imagine the seed surviving our -38C temperatures.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 10:22PM
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Petunia seeds are so tiny that you would think they would have a hard time taking hold and growing. But, thankfully, their germination rate is almost 100% if given the opportunity to sprout with even average moisture and soil. Anyone who has thought about growing their own petunias from seed but were afraid to try, do it! You will save serious dollars over buying the plant at a nursery, and, without the transplant shock your seedlings will grow fast and furious and make you proud with lots of blooms.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 5:35PM
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gardenlady76(TX coast/9)

I normally do not grow Petunias, but, this year I planted three big hanging baskets and they are just beautiful. Here in Gulf Coast Texas, it is the beginning of the slow down growth of almost everything due to the heat. I have been deadheading but my question is, can I cut them back a bit because they are getting leggy looking? And, the new blooms are getting smaller and smaller. To cut or not to cut?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 9:33PM
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I live in the NE where the winters get very cold. This year, I've had pink petunia's popping up all over the place where I never planted any. Found it kind of freaky, glad to hear I'm not the only one.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 7:48PM
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Lord, I learned at lot from this post. I am going to drop my deadheads in my big pots from now on to see if I get petunias next year. I'm in SE Michigan and notice we have been given the designation of Zone 6 this year, instead of 5. What a great joy if I get volunteer petunias coming up in my deck pots next year. Maybe the hosta pots I pull into the attached garage will be good for deadheads too. What fun! Love GardenWeb to pieces!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 1:35PM
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fieldofflowers(3 or 4a)

Google only brings up the archived posts. Darn.

I wanted to report, yes in zone 4a, Twin Cities, MN, I have witnessed my 2nd volunteer petunia. The first year I saw it i thought maybe I threw out a seed in the spring.

But a couple weeks ago I returned to my grandma's house to tend her garden. Sure enough was a tiny little petunia blooming. That was after the harsh winter of 2012-2013. It resembled one I planted last year. I know it couldn't have come any other way. How that survived I don't know. I've also seen a pansy survive the winter in that spot. The fall planted mum survived and a spring planted one too. I guess petunia reseeding/volunteers can happen in the north if well protected??

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 6:33PM
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