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Petunia exserta flower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Subfamily: Petunioideae
Genus: Petunia

See text.

Petunia is genus of 35 species of [1] flowering plants of South American origin, closely related to tobacco, cape gooseberries, tomatoes, deadly nightshades, potatoes and chili peppers; in the family Solanaceae. The popular flower of the same name derived its epithet from the French, which took the word petun, meaning "tobacco," from a Tupi–Guarani language. An annual, most of the varieties seen in gardens are hybrids (P. × atkinsiana, also known as P. hybrida).


Floral arrangement of petunias in Columbus, Ohio

Many species other than P. × atkinsiana are also gaining popularity in the home garden.[2] A wide range of flower colours, sizes, and plant architectures are available in both P. × atkinsiana and the other species.[3]


Some botanists place the plants of the genus Calibrachoa in the genus Petunia.[3] Petchoa is a hybrid genus derived from crossing the genetically similar Calibrachoa and Petunia. [4]

In botanical classification, tobacco, tomato, potato, and petunia are all in the family Solanaceae.[5]

Petunias are generally insect pollinated, with the exception of P. exserta, which is a rare, red-flowered, hummingbird-pollinated species. Most petunias are diploid with 14 chromosomes and are interfertile with other petunia species.[6][7]

The tubular flowers are favoured by some Lepidoptera species, including the Hummingbird hawk moth.[8] The flowers are eaten by the larvae of the corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea and the cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni.[9]

Petunias growing at the Weizmann Institute of Science.


Petunias can tolerate relatively harsh conditions and hot climates. They need at least five hours of sunlight every day. They grow well in low humidity, moist soil. Young plants can be grown from seeds. In drier regions, the plants should be watered daily.[10] Maximum growth occurs in late spring. Applying fertilizers once a month will help the plant grow quickly. Petunias can be cultivated in hanging baskets.


Species include:

  • P. alpicola
  • P. altiplana
  • P. axillaris
  • P. bajeensis
  • P. bonjardinensis
  • P. exserta
  • P. guarapuavensis
  • P. helianthemoides
  • P. humifusa
  • P. inflata
  • P. integrifolia
  • P. interior
  • P. ledifolia
  • P. littoralis
  • P. mantiqueirensis
  • P. occidentalis
  • P. parviflora
  • P. patagonica
  • P. pubescens
  • P. reitzii
  • P. riograndensis
  • P. saxicola
  • P. scheideana
  • P. variabilis
  • P. villadiana

Nothospecies: P. × atkinsiana.


  1. ^ Maberly, D.J. 1990. The Plant Book. A portable dictionary of the higher plants. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, U.K.
  2. ^ Allan M. Armitage, Armitage's Manual of Annuals, Biennials, and Half-Hardy Perennials (Portland: Timber Press, 2001).
  3. ^ a b Ellis, Barbara W. Taylor's Guide to Annuals. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1999. Print.
  4. ^ The Value of Growing Petchoa SuperCal®. Ornamental News Oct 25 2012
  5. ^ “Classification for Kingdom Plantae Down to Family Solanaceae”. Natural Resources Conservation Service. United States Department of Agriculture. 2009. Web. July 8, 2009. <>
  6. ^ Ando, T., Nomura, M. Tsukahara, J., Watanabe, H., Kokubun, H., Tsukamoto, T., Hashimoto, G., Marchesi, E., Kitching, I.(2001) Reproductive isolation in a native population of Petunia sensu Jussieu (Solanaceae) Ann. Bot. (Lond.) 88:403–413.
  7. ^ Griesbach, R.J.(2007) in Flower breeding and genetics: Issues, challenges and opportunities for the 21st century, Petunia, ed Anderson N.O. (Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands), pp 301–336.
  8. ^ Butterfly Conservation
  9. ^ "Colored and white sectors from star-patterned petunia flowers display differential resistance to corn ear worms and cabbage looper larvae".
  10. ^ Brown, Deborah. “Growing Petunias” University of Minnesota Extension Office. University of Minnesota. 2009. Web. 25 June 2009.

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