February 20, 2009 by Rick
This year we are fortunate in having a brand new series of Petunia that is a gardeners dream. Botrytis (gray mold – the noble rot) and other flower diseases had been the main nemesis of Florida Gardeners for petunias. The Ray series is resistant! After a rain or cool foggy morning the Rays are clean and covered with bloom. The Rays also bloom all winter without the pause that other petunias have when the days are very short. The Rays have the perfect habit that gardeners have been looking for since the first petunias were introduced over a hundred years ago. Rays grow upright and mound while keeping the center covered with bloom and as they grow they begin to spread and fill the bed and stay just over a foot tall.
Rays come in White, Red, Purple, Candy Pink, Purple Vein and Sun Yellow. Red Ray is a true Red. All the colors perform the same if you want to mix them in your landscape. The significance of the Ray performance is that Florida Gardeners now have a alternative to planting impatiens for winter color that is much more drought and weather tolerant.
With water restrictions limiting the use of impatiens, Ray petunias are up to the challenge. Try some this spring so you know how long (compared to impatiens) into the warm season they will thrive for you in your sunny garden. They are in your Home Depot from October through April. Then next fall plant Ray Petunias from gallon pots instead of 4 inch impatiens and have more flowers with less effort, less water and less care while planting on a wider spacing (18 to 30 inches center to center). Plan your Cool Season color garden with Red and White Ray Petunias next fall, Florida.