Petunias = Petun = French Trader Word for Tobacco

(Google Images.)

This month is Lawn and Garden Month.  One flower you will find in abundance at a fairly low price at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Wal-mart is the petunia.

Here’s an interesting fact about petunias.  They are in the same family Solanaceae as tobacco, gooseberries, tomatoes, chili peppers, and even deadly nightshade.

Petun, in fact, is an old French word borrowed from French explorers in the Americas.  It means tobacco.  Petun was a regularly traded item between French explorers and Native Americans.

Along with marigolds and geraniums, petunias are a fairly hardy annual plant that most beginner gardeners can work with.  Petunias also spread out and some varieties cascade over the tops of garden containers.  They are perfect for hanging baskets.

According to the Old Farmers’ Almanac online, petunias grow through Spring, Summer, and Fall.  They come in mostly 5 shades:  red, pink, yellow, purple, and white.  Petunias should be planted in full sun to achieve more flowerings.

The great thing about petunias is that they only require water once a week except in dry extreme heat.  If you plant them in containers, expect to water more.  Pinch back or deadhead the wilted ones and more should grow in their place throughout the season.

Petunias are fairly resistant but you do need to protect them from mold, rot, leaf spots, and insects like caterpillars.

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