Petunia is a genus of 20 species of flowering plants of South American origin.[1] The popular flower of the same name derived its epithet from the French, which took the word pétun, 'tobacco', from a Tupi–Guarani language. A tender perennial, most of the varieties seen in gardens are hybrids (Petunia × atkinsiana, also known as Petunia × hybrida).

Petunia exserta flower
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Subfamily: Petunioideae
Genus: Petunia

See text



Petunia is a genus in the family Solanaceae, subfamily Petunioideae. Well known members of Solanaceae in other subfamilies include tobacco (subfamily Nicotianoideae), and the cape gooseberry, tomato, potato, deadly nightshade and chili pepper (subfamily Solanoideae).[2] Some botanists place the plants of the genus Calibrachoa in the genus Petunia,[3] but this is not accepted by others.[4][5][6] Petchoa is a hybrid genus derived from crossing Calibrachoa and Petunia.[7]



Species include:[8]



Petunias are generally insect pollinated, with the exception of P. exserta, which is a rare, red-flowered, hummingbird-pollinated species. Most petunias are diploid with 14 chromosomes and are interfertile with other petunia species,[9][10] as well as with Calibrachoa.

The tubular flowers are favoured by some Lepidoptera species, including the Hummingbird hawk moth.[11]



Petunias can tolerate relatively harsh conditions and hot climates, but not frost. They need at least five hours of sunlight every day and flourish in moist soil and conditions of low atmospheric humidity. They are best grown from seed. Watering once a week should be sufficient in most regions. Hanging baskets and other containers need more frequent watering.[12] Maximum growth occurs in late spring. Applying fertilizer monthly or weekly, depending on the variety, will help the plant grow quickly.

AGM cultivars


The following is a selection of cultivars which have received the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:

  • Conchita Blueberry Frost = 'Conblue'[13]
  • Conchita Evening Glow = 'Conglow'[14]
  • Conchita Strawberry Frost = 'Constraw'[15]
  • NightSky = 'Kleph15313' [16]
  • 'Storm Lavender'[17]
  • 'Storm Pink'[18]
  • 'Storm Salmon'[19]
  • Surfinia Pink Vein = 'Suntosol'[20]
  • Surfinia Purple = 'Sunpurple'[21]
  • Tumbelina Priscilla = 'Kerpril'[22]



Many species other than Petunia × atkinsiana are also gaining popularity in the home garden.[23] A wide range of flower colours, sizes, and plant architectures are available in both Petunia × atkinsiana and other species.[3]

Genetically engineered bioluminescent Petunia hybrida was approved for sales by USDA in 2023.[24] Called 'Firefly,' this white-flowered petunia glows due to inserted genes from a bioluminescent mushroom.[25]

Symbolism and folklore


The Maya and Inca believed that the scent of petunias had the power to ward off underworld monsters and spirits. Their flower-buds were bunched together for magical drinks.[citation needed]



  1. ^ "The plant list: Petunia". Royal Botanic Garden Kew and Missouri Botanic Garden. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  2. ^ “Classification for Kingdom Plantae Down to Family Solanaceae”. Natural Resources Conservation Service. United States Department of Agriculture. 2009. Web. July 8, 2009. [1]
  3. ^ a b Ellis, Barbara W. (1999). Taylor's Guide to Annuals. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
  4. ^ The Plant List: Petunia
  5. ^ Ando, T.; Kokubun, H.; Watanabe, H.; Tanaka, N.; Yukawa, T.; Hashimoto, G.; Marchesi, E.; Suárez, E.; Basualdo, I.L. (2005). "Phylogenetic analysis of Petunia sensu Jussieu (Solanaceae) using chloroplast DNA RFLP". Annals of Botany. 96 (2): 289–297. doi:10.1093/aob/mci177. PMC 4246877. PMID 15944177.
  6. ^ Mishiba, Kei-Ichiro; Ando, Toshio; Mii, Masahiro; Watanabe, Hitoshi; Kokubun, Hisashi; Hashimoto, Goro; Marchesi, Eduardo (2000). "Nuclear DNA Content as an Index Character Discriminating Taxa in the Genus Petunia sensu Jussieu (Solanaceae)". Annals of Botany. 85 (5): 665–673. doi:10.1006/anbo.2000.1122.
  7. ^ The Value of Growing Petchoa SuperCal®. Ornamental News Oct 25 2012
  8. ^ The Plant List, retrieved 13 September 2015
  9. ^ Ando, T.; Nomura, M.; Tsukahara, J.; Watanabe, H.; Kokubun, H.; Tsukamoto, T.; Hashimoto, G.; Marchesi, E.; Kitching, I. J. (2001). "Reproductive isolation in a native population of Petunia sensu Jussieu (Solanaceae)". Annals of Botany. 88 (3): 403–413. doi:10.1006/anbo.2001.1485. JSTOR 42771064.
  10. ^ Griesbach, R.J.(2007) in Flower breeding and genetics: Issues, challenges and opportunities for the 21st century, Petunia, ed Anderson N.O. (Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands), pp 301–336.
  11. ^ Butterfly Conservation
  12. ^ Brown, Deborah. “Growing Petunias” University of Minnesota Extension Office. University of Minnesota. 2009. Web. 25 June 2009. Archived 2013-10-26 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Petunia Conchita Blueberry Frost='Conblue'". RHS. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Petunia Conchita Evening Glow='Conglow'". RHS. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  15. ^ "Petunia Conchita Strawberry Frost='Constraw'". RHS. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  16. ^ "Petunia NightSky='Kleph15313'". RHS. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  17. ^ "Petunia × atkinsiana 'Storm Lavender'". RHS. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  18. ^ "Petunia × atkinsiana 'Storm Pink'". RHS. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  19. ^ "Petunia × atkinsiana 'Storm Salmon'". RHS. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Petunia Surfinia Pink Vein='Suntosol'". RHS. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  21. ^ "Surfinia Purple='Sunpurple'". RHS. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  22. ^ "Petunia Tumbelina Priscilla='Kerpril'". RHS. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  23. ^ Armitage, Allan M. (2001). Armitage's Manual of Annuals, Biennials, and Half-Hardy Perennials. Portland: Timber Press.
  24. ^ "rsr-light-bio-petunia". USDA.
  25. ^ "Glow-Way!". Nature.