Do the Wave

I love petunias, always have. I remember growing red multiflora types from seed years ago so I could have lots of them for the hummingbirds. They seem to love petunias too, especially the red shades. In fact, they like them so much that they often poke holes in the flowers as they go flying around them searching for nectar. I know some gardeners tend to look down their noses at annuals, but they definitely have their place at Happy Acres.

When the Waves first came out in 1995, I didn’t immediately grow them, mainly because the original color was purple. Once I did, I was hooked! The Waves are non-stop bloomers great for planting in beds or containers. Unlike older petunia types, the Waves don’t need pinching or deadheading to keep on producing flowers.

After Purple Wave was introduced, the plant breeders went to work and Wave petunias now come in several different types and lots of different colors. The original Waves are low and spreading. The Easy Waves and Shock Waves are a bit taller, and slightly less spreading. The Tidal Waves are the tallest and will climb if given support, but still spread nicely if allowed to sprawl. And then there are the Double Waves, which are short and more restrained in growth than the other Waves.

Easy Red Wave in hanging basket

Easy Red Wave in hanging basket

I’ve grown them all except the Doubles. They all make good container plants, and they’re hard to beat for season-long color. Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds like them too.

The plants are pricey enough that a few years ago I started growing my own from seed. With a packet of 10 seeds going for $2.95, I figure I can grow my own for less than 50 cents a piece. This is about one tenth the cost of plants purchased at a nursery!

The seeds themselves are tiny, and usually sold pelleted to make them easier to handle. Even then they are only about 1mm in diameter. I sow them in 3.5 inch pots, putting the seeds right on top of pre-moistened soil without covering them. I give them a light misting to dissolve the pellet material, cover them with plastic wrap, and secure it with a rubber band. Then they go on a heating mat under fluorescent lights.

pots of Wave petunia seeds on heating mat

pots of Wave petunia seeds on heating mat

Kept at 72-76F, they begin germinating in just 4 days. Once they have germinated, I remove the plastic wrap and keep them close to the lights. I mist them or bottom water until they have established roots and are getting their true leaves. In the pot below, 3 seeds have germinated right on schedule, 4 days after sowing. Can you see the green specks?

Blue Wave petunia seedlings

Blue Wave petunia seedlings

Here’s one of the seedlings closeup. The particles of perlite (white specks) look like boulders next to the tiny plant!

tiny petunia seedling

Detailed growing information can be found here. I start the seeds a good 3 months before I plan on setting them out. Around here that works out to be February 1st. By late April they should be starting to bloom, and ready to plant. I’ll transplant them twice – first to a cell pack and then to their own 3.5 or 4 inch pots. When the plants are about 3 weeks old I’ll start fertilizing them every 2 weeks with liquid fertilizer that is diluted to half-strength.

If you’ve never grown petunias from seed, you might want to give it a try. With a little bit of time and patience, you can be doing the Wave yourself!

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15 Responses to Do the Wave

  1. Bernie says:

    I’m a big fan of the Wave too … I so enjoyed your post. I’ve never tried growing them from seed and your post has given me food for thought. Great to see how you go about growing them from seed … nice clear photos as well.

  2. Cyndy says:

    Purple waves still do the best for me – I’m grown them from seed the last couple of years. They are expensive otherwise, and can be hard to find here as they get sold out very quickly. I guess it’s time to fire up the warming mats!

    • Villager says:

      I do really like the purple ones. When we moved here in 2007, we had little time for gardening that summer. I potted up a couple of Purple Waves in hanging baskets and they bloomed all summer for us.

  3. liza says:

    I love Petunias. Annuals can add so much color – anyone who puts them down obviously doesn’t know what he’s missing. I think it’s great you’re growing from seed. Please keep us posted as they grow!

  4. Villager says:

    Liza, I have to agree. I mix annuals and perennials all over our gardens. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I love Wave petunias. I didn’t start growing them until about 2000, but once I started, there was no going back to the ‘old’ petunias. I love how they just keep blooming, and how the plants keep their shape without a lot of fussing. I’ve never tried them from seed though…never really thought to, but now I will at least try!

  6. I have grown quite a few from six-packs but have not tried them from seed. What a great idea. Since they grow here in the winter, I will have to try this trick in the late summer. I can’t wait to see your blooming this summer :^)

  7. I tried a Purple Wave in a tipsy pot last year, and it was a dismal failure. Even though the plant was atop a 3′ post, insects kept it chewed to the point of ugliness. I had a real earwig problem, and I’m assuming it was these creatures who did the damage. I began with a plant in full bloom, and is a photo after a month in the pot.

  8. Villager says:

    Yikes Granny, it looks like something was munching away on your Wave! I’ve been lucky, and nothing has ever really bothered mine.

  9. Meredith says:

    Villager, thanks for the great info, once again. I did not realize that the red petunias would attract hummingbirds. (You may have guessed by now that when I plant flowers, it is all about the butterflies, bees, and especially the hummingbirds. We are friends.) I’ll definitely have to try at least one this season.

    Those teensy weensy seedlings are so cute. I just love this stage of gardening; all that pent up potential is so exciting!

  10. Janie says:

    I also love petunias. In particular, I love the Laura Bush petunia, which grows rampant here, and reseeds freely for me. I also found a variety that is very, very hardy, called the ‘Daddy’ series. ‘Daddy White, Daddy Pink’, etc. etc., and they grow beautifully in winter or summer, if they are in the ground by April 1, or therabouts. Just wonderful flowers!

    I am so excited about Spring, when I see all the flowers on the blogs!

  11. My relationship with petunias is off and on. I like the ones with fragrance. The purple waves do have a nice scent. I buy them in the garden center where I can smell them. If I grew them in mass I know i would try the seeds.

  12. Pingback: Saturday Spotlight: Wave Petunias | Our Happy Acres

  13. J Smith says:

    Would really like to see a picture of wave seeds at 5 weeks or slightly more.

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