In the world of spreading petunias, Wave petunias are one of
the most consumer-recognized brands, and
California Pack Trials 2002 brought us the new Easy Wave series of
spreading petunias. An alternative to traditional petunias, Easy Waves offer
easy-to-flower plants with great retail impact and minimal maintenance
requirements. They are available in four colors: Pink, Shell Pink, Cherry and
Easy Wave petunias have day-neutral characteristics, making
them easy to flower under short days. Easy Waves give growers the ability to
produce quality spreading petunias for the winter market because the plants
will remain in flower under the shorter days of winter. They also require less
plant growth regulators; Easy Waves can be grown with the same PGR schedule
used on standard petunias in most areas.
Easy Wave petunias can be produced in packs and small
containers without heavy spacing or tangled branches. PanAmerican recommends
the use of 4-inch or 1801 containers.
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 0.75
mmhos/cm (1:2 extraction). Easy Wave seed does not need to be covered, but a
light covering is beneficial if humidity cannot be controlled during
Germinate seed at a temperature of 72-76° F while
maintaining 100 percent relative humidity (RH). The RH can be reduced gradually
to approximately 50 percent after the cotyledons emerge. Light is not required
for uniform germination but may give growers even better results. Because Easy
Wave seed is pelleted, it is beneficial to apply above-average amounts of soil
moisture during Stage 1 to melt the pellet completely.
At radicle emergence, fertilize with a low
phosphorus-nitrate solution at a rate of 50 ppm nitrogen. Grow the plugs at a
temperature of 65-70° F and increase fertilizer levels to 100-150 ppm
nitrogen. 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 the
highest-quality product. Apply one application of 5,000 ppm B-Nine during Stage
3 and another at Stage 4. If the plugs need to be held, keep temperatures
between 60-65° F.
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 a
medium initial nutrient charge. Maintain night temperatures of 55-65° F and
day temperatures of 65-75° F.
Easy Wave petunias require more fertilizer than is usually
recommended for standard petunias. For best results, apply a balanced
fertilizer with every second or third irrigation — 200-250 ppm nitrogen.
Easy Wave petunias benefit from regular plant growth regulator treatments. In
northern Illinois, four weekly applications (starting one week after
transplant) of 5,000 ppm B-Nine produced a quality finished product. This is
the same PGR treatment used on standard petunias in this area.
For spring production, growers should allow 12 weeks (sow to
finish) in 1801- or 306-size packs and 4- to 6-inch containers, adding one week
of 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 weeks
in summer from a 392-plug and 8-9 weeks under shorter days. Transplant one
plant per 1801, 306 or 4-inch container; 1-3 plants per 6-inch; and 4-5 plants
per 10-inch basket.
These ‘Easy Wave’ petunias are simple to produce, hence the name — maybe even “easier” than traditional petunias.