Plant Palette

Plant Palette

Wave™ Petunias

Photo of Jennifer Schultz Nelson

Jennifer Schultz Nelson
Extension Educator, Horticulture
jaschult@illinois.edu

Wave™ Petunias

Wave™ petunias have been around since 1995, when Purple Wave™ was introduced as an All-America Selections winner. I remember being very curious about them until I saw the price. They were, and still are substantially more expensive than the average petunia. But are they worth the premium price?

I debated year in, year out, but didn't finally buy some until about 4 years ago. The local garden center had a huge rack of 6-inch pots marked down to $1 apiece. It was an inexpensive chance to see if they really were better than the petunias I had grown in the past. I bought several plants to test in my window boxes, plus some for my mom. My mom never did believe that I only spent $1 apiece on them, and she doubted they were any better than other petunias, but I planted them for her anyway and hoped for the best.

I was pleasantly surprised with the results, both in my window boxes and my mom's garden. In both cases, I filled the available space with about half the number of petunias I would have used in the past. Plus, they filled the space very quickly, and bloomed more profusely than other petunias. Even my mom the skeptic was impressed. We were both convinced Wave™ petunias are definitely better performers than older varieties of petunias. My mom still thinks they're too expensive, but I think they're worth the money. I still jump at Wave™ petunias I find on sale, but now I'm much more likely to seriously consider them at full price.

Since the Purple Wave™ petunias were introduced, many more colors have been added to the series, plus Double Wave™, a series of double-flowered colors. There are also two additional Wave™ "styles" available, the Easy Wave™, which spreads but has more vertical height than the original Wave™, and Tidal Wave™ which grows even taller and more hedge-like. Given restricted space and support, it grows much like a vine.

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