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Petunia axillarisPetunia axillaris
Wild White Petunia

Almost 100% of the petunias available today are hybrids. This is an exception, as it is the wild version and as rare as hen's teeth. It focuses its energies not on producing colorful flowers but in releasing buckets of its powerful vanilla/licorice scent at night, which attract its pollinator, the hawk moth. Its white trumpets and wonderful fragrance make it a great addition to the Moon Garden. This plant is a member of the Nightshade family and so makes a good stealth garden substitute for other less decorative Saturn plants; it can also step in for more ferocious banefuls in rituals. It is associated with the sign of Capricorn. In the Victorian language of flowers, petunia means "your presence comforts me" or conversely "anger." Top

This plant helps repel aphids, so consider it as a tallish protective border. A native of South America, wild white petunia was first grown in American gardens in the 1820s and in English greenhouses since 1823 and is a parent of all modern petunias. If you would like to create your own hybrids, grow some wild violet petunia as well and use a paintbrush to transfer pollen between them. The name "petunia" comes from a Native American word, petun, for tobacco that isn't smoked. It is also known as large white petunia, Nicotiana axillaris, Petunia parodii. Top

How to Grow Wild White Petunias
wild white petuniaStart inside 10-12 weeks before you want to set them out. Just sprinkle the fine seed on top of moist planting medium and gently press in with your fingertip. They need a bit more warmth than many plants, 70-80F/21-27C, to germinate in 1-3 weeks. Plants get 2ft/60cm tall and 2ft/60cm wide (the photo shows them when they were still young. They got more than twice as tall and much bushier). They enjoy full sun and do well in pots, especially if you put a number of them together in a big one. Fertilize with top dressing of composted manure. According to folk belief, you should plant and water petunias early in the morning to promote more flowering. Try to water the soil instead of the plant, in order to prevent disease. Petunias like full sun and don't mind heat. Petunias like it on the dryish side. It is taller and tougher than regular petunias, but it is still an annual, unless you are in the tropics; some people, though, have gotten it to winter over by planting it against a south-facing wall and giving it winter protection, in which case it will come back large the following year. It reseeds easily, though, so this is not really an issue. Set by a window or your porch so you can enjoy the fragrance in the evening. Flowers will be larger when it is not too hot. If you deadhead, it will make more flowers, but if you leave the old flowers on, they will fall off and form seed pods, a small cone, in the flower's place. Wait for these to dry on the plant (they will become brown and crisp) and harvest your own seeds from them by pressing them until they crack open. You will never be without these beautiful flowers again. There may be one or two pink flowers in among them. Just weed them out. General growing info. Top

Petunia axillaris
Wild White Petunia
100 seeds $3.75

Out of stock until fall


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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Moon Garden
Saturn Herb

2008, 2017 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission