The Poinsettia remains a favorite plant for the holidays. Plants, like people, sometimes make a…
I couldn’t believe it when I first heard from a worker at a garden center that the petunia was toxic. To me the petunia looks just too beautiful to kill you.
That surprise was nothing compared to what I read in Philadelphia nurseryman Thomas Meehan’s magazine Gardener’s Monthly from 1868.
It took decades for the petunia to attain the status of a coveted flower in the garden.
Meehan devoted an entire article in that volume of GM to the petunia. The article began with the plant’s travel from Brazil to England, where it first appeared in 1823.
Then the author of the article W. P. from Detroit said, “For a long time after its first introduction, the Petunia was looked upon as almost worthless, and from the flimsy appearance of its flowers, was pronounced a ‘miserable weed’, but we must now abandon the word weed, for the Petunia has become a florists’ flower.”
By 1868 flower-lovers everywhere treasured it.
A bit later the 1874 catalog of seed company owner James Vick (1818-1882) from Rochester, NY listed eight varieties of petunias.
Vick wrote in the flower description: “The improvement of this flower has been constant.”
One summer I grew it in a container in my backyard on top of this wrought iron table [below].
The popular petunia began its journey to American gardens from England, as was the case with many flowers in American gardens in the nineteenth century.
Today the petunia is one of the top ten most popular summer annuals, according to the National Garden Bureau.