With an exceptionally long-blooming season and petunia-like flowers that return every year, wild petunia is just what the gardener ordered! It typically tops off at 12-16” and grows in sandy or well-drained loam, clay, or rocky soils in part sun. The funnel-shaped lavender blooms are similar to those of the annual petunia, which is not a close relative. The clusters of flowers take turns opening each day, providing continuous bloom from spring through fall. The erect stems are cloaked in oblong, rich-green leaves, giving the plant a bushy, low-mounding form that serves as a long-blooming groundcover that blooms vigorously, even in hot, dry weather. The common name “hairy petunia” refers to the soft, white hairs that cover the plant.
Native habitats include dry-to-moist forests and woodlands, prairies, sand flats, fields, and roadsides. Use as a groundcover or ornamental in meadows, beds, borders, and pollinator gardens.
Most commonly grows to 1’ tall, and spreads by rhizomes and seed to create a flowering groundcover.
Prefers part sun (4+ hours).
Grows in moist to dry, well-drained sand or loam. Tolerates clay and gravelly soils. Does not tolerate boggy soils.
Clusters of five-lobed violet flowers bloom from May-September. Flowers have five petal-like lobes with dark-purple lines. The plant self-seeds readily when oval seed capsules fall to the ground or are ejected up to 10’ in distance.
Deep-green leaves are oval shaped, 2 ½” long, and covered with soft white hairs on both sides.
Wild petunia is a host plant for the spiny caterpillar of the gorgeous common buckeye butterfly. The butterfly feeds on the nectar of composite flowers, so aster, coreopsis, chicory, and penstemon are ideal companion plants to wild petunia. Long-tongued bees are the most-effective pollinators of the trumpet-shaped flowers, but short-tongued bees also visit the flowers. The seeds are a good food source for songbirds.
Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:
The plant has been used as an antioxidant, antibiotic, laxative, and anti-inflammatory.
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