On Gardening: Picasso in Purple is one special Supertunia


Naming a petunia “Picasso” gives clear indication this plant is something special. That is precisely what I thought the first time I saw Supertunia Picasso in Purple in plant trials. I actually felt a little intimidated as I started thinking what would I do with this beautiful flower in containers or in the landscape.

Oddly, my opportunity came in October 2020. This is probably not your first thought when it comes to planting petunias. It is even an aggressive thought in zone 8a West Georgia. But that is precisely what happened.

This unique petunia is a rich purple color with what Proven Winners describes as mint green edges — but I promise plenty of times the mint green leans toward chartreuse, which is even more riveting. So right there you have two color choices of incorporating into the design. In fact, a Proven Winner combination named “Breathless” may be the perfect partnership.

Breathless uses Angelface Perfectly Pink angelonia as the thriller. Though called pink, it echoes the color of Picasso in Purple to perfection. But it is the ornamental Sweet Caroline Light Green Sweet Potato Vine that is the finishing touch, as it picks up the green in the petunia.

The first week of October 2020 I planted my Picasso in Purple in the landscape and in a prized container I had reserved for such an occasion. In the landscape I obviously used it as a groundcover flower and partnered it with Firelight Tidbit hydrangea paniculata that was planted a week earlier.

The purple flowers made a magical partnership with the hydrangea blossoms as they turned from white to various shades of pink. All the Supertunias lasted until the end of June. This was nine months, right at 270 days, which was beyond my wildest dreams.

The Garden Guy is a sucker for containers that are made out of recycled or reconstituted material and my lavender purple container made out of bamboo was about to be put to the test with Supertunia Picasso in Purple petunia also planted in October.

I chose Superbells Yellow Calibrachoa and White Knight Lobularia, or Sweet Alyssum, as partners. Again, I was probably even more surprised when everything — including the pot — survived the long winter. While we did not have the record cold of Texas and Louisiana, we did have a lot of nights in the mid-20s. By April this was like the picture of a spring bouquet.

Like the other Supertunias I was growing, Picasso in Purple surprised me with frequent visits of the yellow eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly. It was like nature was doing its part to enhance the color scheme. So it is déjà vu as I have planted the partnerships again in the bamboo container.

The White Knight Sweet Alyssum that survived the winter also survived the summer and is starting to flush with blooms. This year I have added Lemon Coral Sedum to echo the green in the Supertunia Picasso in Purple petunia. The Superbells Yellow Calibrachoa is much underused and is a container wonder.

Supertunia Picasso in Purple gets about 12 inches tall with a spread of 2 feet, which is perfect for containers. Son James used them and they were the stars of the show in the containers of the Old Town community of North Columbus.

Like all other petunias, it needs fertile, well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. If you live in the South and find it now, give it a chance. Otherwise, come spring, be the first in line.

(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)

This story was originally published October 7, 2021 4:00 AM.

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