California Giant  Petunia grandiflora
California Giant
Petunia grandiflora

California Giant Petunia is a beautiful old-fashioned petunia that I have planted the past few years. The photos below are from my heirloom petunias I grew in 2012. This year the seed I planted was not the same as this one in 2012 and they were not as beautiful or fragrant! Make sure you do not use up all your seeds the year you plant your heirloom flowers. I purchased these California Giant Petunias from Select Seeds, and they were the most beautiful old-fashioned flowers that filled the garden with fragrance at dusk. The seed I used this year (2013) was from an English Seed Company, and they were not as beautiful or hardy as the ones I planted  in 2012. I did not even bother taking any pictures of the ones I grew this year since they were not much to look at or even mention!

They provide a tropical look in the garden….

The veining reminded me of a water color painting....
The veining reminded me of a water-color painting….in this picture the veins just wash across….

I start my petunia plants in March which makes them perfect for setting out in early spring.  They bloom until frost and sometimes even past our frost dates if it warms up a bit during the day.

In planters the Giants were a bit leggy, so I found they looked better weaving in and out among vegetables, herbs and other flowers in our Urban Potager

I feel California Giants look better in the garden bed intermingling with other flowers, not in planters. They are excellent for companion planting in vegetable beds. Petunias are part of the nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, + potatoes) which makes them perfect for pest control in these beds. They repel a variety of pests! In 2013, I planted them in all my tomato beds, and I have yet to find a tomato horn worm in my summer gardens!

They are very drought tolerant which is ideal for our humid summers.
They are very drought tolerant which is ideal for our humid summers.

 We took out some old bushes in our front yard and planted some annual petunias in their place.

Circa 1907
Circa 1907

Here, is  heirloom Old-Fashioned Climbing Petunia. I had a few containers throughout the garden in 2012. They don’t smell like much during the day, but when the sun sets they fill the garden with a wonderful fragrance!

I like the simple cheerful look of these petunias in pots. They work in both garden beds and containers.

I loved how they just danced throughout this bed of annuals and perennials up by the road that does not get much water some days, but they all survived!

Heirloom Old-Fashioned Climbing petunias in the morning light…..

I will be saving seeds from these in 2014 from my own plants. We need to keep the heirloom and old varieties alive and  pass them on to other gardeners. Each year they are replaced by new hybrids that do not have the grace, fragrance, history and simple beauty of these old-fashioned flowers.

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer

8 comments

  1. What an important message about saving seeds from the heirloom plants which are being lost. Interesting how one variety was very fragrant and the other one was not. As always Robbie, BEAUTIFUL photos. Great pair of matching clay containers too. I always look forward to reading your posts!!

    1. I know it is important especially when seed is so different from sources! I love taking pictures of beautiful flowers, and look forward to capturing some in 2014 when I grow these out again. I’ve read several books on heirloom flowers, and the fragrance is why most people are trying to keep them going by saving seeds and passing them on…it seems as the public desires “more blooms” + ” larger blooms” it tends to mean fragrance is left behind at times( like our tomatoes-no flavor!). In fact, fragrance is what the old gardens had which we do not have today. My mother mentioned to me last summer, ” I noticed as I was at the garden centers the blooms are larger,and bright, but there is no scent on these flowers!”….that is so sad since fragrance is what helps make our gardens an inviting place to be at night which these old petunias provide! It is an amazing wonderful fragrance:-)
      I love clay pots, but they don’t always like our harsh winters:-)

  2. Just beautiful Robbie – and would be fun to paint in watercolor! Wish we had smell-o-rama! I will have to reconsider petunias and give some heirloom varieties a try.

    1. Hi Kathy, You are so right!Check out Select Seeds they have “antique” flowers ( heirloom), and they have the history behind some of their plants. I found these petunias in their on line store a few years ago, but they don’t carry the same seed every year:-) so you never know if it will return. The Old fashioned trailing petunia is a bit easier to find, but California Giants are different and harder to find.

  3. I love a fragrant garden, too! Especially by the entry ways, it’s nice to have a hard-working plant that provides beauty, aroma and something for the pollinators! Thanks for sharing this tip!

    1. and thank you for your story on your blog about that special woman, it made me think a lot about how sometimes we all complain too much
      and need to think more about what we have instead of what we don’t have:-)

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