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Petunias belong to the Solanaceae family, which combines semi-shrubs and herbaceous perennials.
The natural habitat of the flower is the countries of South America (Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay), although one species of petunia is found on the northern continent.
Petunia stems can be either creeping or erect. The leaves of plants are whole, soft, arranged alternately, and the upper ones are opposite. Both leaves and stems are covered with hairs.
Flowers are white, purple or red, have a smooth or terry surface. In structure, they can be axillary, solitary or finite. The seeds are grouped into a fruit that looks like a bivalve box.
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The method of reproduction depends on the type of flowers: terry petunias propagate by cuttings, other species - by seeds.
Sowing takes place in March or, if there is an autonomous light source, in February. Before planting, it is worth paying special attention to the moisture content and nature of the selected soil, since the seeds take root only in a nutrient, pre-moistened environment. For an even planting, the top layer of earth a centimeter thick should be sifted soil.
Sowing is performed as follows
- Petunia seeds are mixed with a small amount of dry sand, poured onto prepared loose and moist soil, sprayed with water and covered with glass.
- Subject to the temperature regime of 20-23o, the entrances appear after 7 days. They are very sensitive to the level of humidity: on the one hand, they require careful daily spraying, on the other hand, from an excess of moisture, the plants become victims of the "black leg" and die. Seedlings should be turned daily towards the sun.
- When the first leaf appears on the seedlings, the glass is removed. There are often cases when the seedlings begin to hurt - in this case, the seedlings are covered with sand, transferred to the minimum watering mode and dived. They are planted in the ground after the spring frosts are finally in the past. Although the flowers can tolerate transplanting, the utmost care must be taken when handling thin stems of seedlings.
- For disembarkation, the dark time of the day or days with cloudy weather are suitable. Flowers are planted in containers or pots at the rate of about 70 plants per 1 sq. m. - that is, quite tight. The gaps between individual cuttings should be at least 20-25 cm for large-flowered species and 15-20 for small-flowered varieties.
- The seedlings are watered immediately after planting. The nearby land is fertilized with humus or peat in order to preserve moisture and heat. Flowering of small-flowered varieties begins 70-75 days after sowing, large-flowered varieties - after 84-90 days.
Double flowers, as noted above, are propagated by cuttings. Cuttings cut from the mother plants are planted in pots in winter, provided with proper lighting, regular ventilation and a constant temperature regime of 10-12o. Rooted seedlings are moved into pots up to 9 cm in diameter.
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The ideal soils for growing petunias are loamy and sandy loamy, although absolutely any fertile composition can be suitable for this purpose. The plant is grateful for the introduction of compost or humus.
But fresh manure is not the best fertilizer for petunias, since its presence can cause fungal diseases of the flower.
Petunia should be fed regularly in summer and spring. Ideally, you should apply complex fertilizers with a high potassium content three to four times a month. For this purpose, organic compounds are also suitable - for example, mullein infusion.
You can start feeding from the second week of the planting field. Such care will ensure its expressive and long flowering. In the winter, feeding stops.
Petunias gravitate towards light and warmth (especially large-flowered ones), so you should choose the appropriate place for planting them - sunny and as warm as possible. A drop in temperature coupled with an increase in humidity can cause the petunia to stop blooming.
Rains are generally very harmful to petunias, as they injure and tear their leaves. However, the flowers are not afraid of excess moisture. This property should be taken into account when watering: although the root system of petunias assumes resistance to drought, the plants should be watered abundantly and carefully, pouring water under the roots of the flower to avoid stagnation.
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