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On Gardening: Supertunia Vista Paradise is a pollinator champion

Norman Winter, Tribune News Service on

Published in Gardening News

Petunias for pollinators could be paradise.

At least it seems this way at The Garden Guy’s house.

First off, my wife, Jan, and I are having the most beautiful spring. Not too long ago I wrote a column that planting a fall crop of Supertunias was a great idea. That is proving to be a huge understatement. The October planting survived the winter and is making an incredible display in both the landscape and containers.

Did I do it for pollinators? That would be a big no. Sure, we have all seen an occasional hit from a butterfly or hummingbird over the years. But this spring as we are waiting on lantanas, verbenas and salvias to bring them in, it is Supertunia Vista Paradise that has taken the crown as pollinator champ.

I’ll admit, until I started growing it, I had never heard of Supertunia Vista Paradise. This is a little embarrassing, considering it won Top Performer with University of Georgia, Florida, Cornell, Penn State, Ohio State and the University of Wisconsin, among others. It also won Perfect Score All Season at Michigan State, where I will end, though there are more.

No doubt these weren’t judged on pollinators, since we don’t think of petunias doing much for the insect world. (Though I would remind everyone to notice the tag, which says butterflies and hummingbirds.) I am growing a half-dozen petunia varieties now, and Supertunia Vista Paradise is the one they have been going to since the 2021 butterfly population started arriving.

There are a total of five colors in the Supertunia Vista group: Bubblegum, Fuchsia, Snowdrift, Silverberry and Paradise. This is the segment of the Supertunia entourage that was created for show and go. These petunias get 24 inches tall and 36 inches wide, creating an almost shrublike appearance. These are the racehorses of the petunia world.

 

The Supertunia Vista Paradise color is hard to describe. Proven Winners calls it "Watermelon Pink," and that does a pretty good job. But there is a little more — an almost iridescence to the petals. It kind of makes you think it could glow at sunset or under a black light.

In the landscape, I have mine with other Supertunias, Rockin Fuchsia salvia, Pugster buddleia and with the new Limelight Prime Hydrangea paniculata. In containers they are partnered with White Knight alyssum and Goldilocks lysimachia.

This crop of Supertunias planted in October gave me 60 days of blooms before freezing temperatures in December, and now 30 days so far in the spring. That’s 90 days spread over fall 2020 and early spring 2021, and they are full speed ahead for the long growing season.

What if they make it until November? I won’t count my chickens yet.

Although I am touting the award-winning Supertunia Vista Paradise, the real story is that you as gardeners can count on 150-plus days of beauty with Supertunias, no matter the variety. Give them great organic potting soil, regular water and feeding, good sunlight and a little trim around Aug. 1, and you too can keep them in a state of riveting splendor the rest of the season.

And watch for the butterflies and hummingbirds, too!

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