Culture Tips for Easy Wave Petunias By Scott Rusch

These ‘Easy Wave’ petunias are simple to produce, hence the name — maybe even “easier” than traditional petunias.

In the world of spreading petunias, Wave petunias are one ofthe most consumer-recognized brands, and California Pack Trials 2002 brought us the new Easy Wave series ofspreading petunias. An alternative to traditional petunias, Easy Waves offereasy-to-flower plants with great retail impact and minimal maintenancerequirements. They are available in four colors: Pink, Shell Pink, Cherry andWhite.

Easy Wave petunias have day-neutral characteristics, makingthem easy to flower under short days. Easy Waves give growers the ability toproduce quality spreading petunias for the winter market because the plantswill remain in flower under the shorter days of winter. They also require lessplant growth regulators; Easy Waves can be grown with the same PGR scheduleused on standard petunias in most areas.

Easy Wave petunias can be produced in packs and smallcontainers without heavy spacing or tangled branches. PanAmerican recommendsthe use of 4-inch or 1801 containers.

Germination

Because their spreading habit begins after transplanting,you can produce Easy Wave plugs like other petunias. Use a well-drained,disease-free seedling medium with a pH of 5.5-6.0 and EC approximately 0.75mmhos/cm (1:2 extraction). Easy Wave seed does not need to be covered, but alight covering is beneficial if humidity cannot be controlled duringgermination.

Germinate seed at a temperature of 72-76° F whilemaintaining 100 percent relative humidity (RH). The RH can be reduced graduallyto approximately 50 percent after the cotyledons emerge. Light is not requiredfor uniform germination but may give growers even better results. Because EasyWave seed is pelleted, it is beneficial to apply above-average amounts of soilmoisture during Stage 1 to melt the pellet completely.

At radicle emergence, fertilize with a lowphosphorus-nitrate solution at a rate of 50 ppm nitrogen. Grow the plugs at atemperature of 65-70° F and increase fertilizer levels to 100-150 ppmnitrogen. Maintain a medium EC between 1.0 and 1.5 mmhos/cm (1:2 extraction).As the plugs reach maturity, growth regulators will be needed to produce thehighest-quality product. Apply one application of 5,000 ppm B-Nine during Stage3 and another at Stage 4. If the plugs need to be held, keep temperaturesbetween 60-65° F.

Growing On

Easy Wave petunias are a quick, grower-friendly crop —just nine weeks from sow to finish in a 4-inch container (summer production).Use a well-drained, disease-free, soilless medium with a pH of 5.5-6.3 and amedium initial nutrient charge. Maintain night temperatures of 55-65° F andday temperatures of 65-75° F.

Easy Wave petunias require more fertilizer than is usuallyrecommended for standard petunias. For best results, apply a balancedfertilizer with every second or third irrigation — 200-250 ppm nitrogen.Easy Wave petunias benefit from regular plant growth regulator treatments. Innorthern Illinois, four weekly applications (starting one week aftertransplant) of 5,000 ppm B-Nine produced a quality finished product. This isthe same PGR treatment used on standard petunias in this area.

Finishing

For spring production, growers should allow 12 weeks (sow tofinish) in 1801- or 306-size packs and 4- to 6-inch containers, adding one weekof production time to finish a 10-inch basket. Allow nine weeks (sow to finish)in summer to produce in 1801- or 306-size packs and 4- to 6-inch containers,again adding one week to finish a 10-inch basket.

If finishing a 4-inch container from plugs, allow six weeksin summer from a 392-plug and 8-9 weeks under shorter days. Transplant oneplant per 1801, 306 or 4-inch container; 1-3 plants per 6-inch; and 4-5 plantsper 10-inch basket.



Scott Rusch

Scott Rusch is a sales specialist for PanAmerican Seed, West Chicago, Ill. He may be reached by E-mail at srusch@panamseed.com.



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