Planting & Growing

Black Velvet Petunia will grow to be about 10 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 10 inches. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 8 inches apart. Its foliage tends to remain low and dense right to the ground. This fast-growing annual will normally live for one full growing season, needing replacement the following year.

This plant should only be grown in full sunlight. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This particular variety is an interspecific hybrid. It can be propagated by cuttings; however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.

Black Velvet Petunia is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor containers and hanging baskets. It is often used as a ‘filler’ in the ‘spiller-thriller-filler’ container combination, providing a mass of flowers against which the thriller plants stand out. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

In recent years, black petunia has been known as one of the hottest plants to add to many people’s backyards. This plant is different from most other plants because it can produce beautiful flowers with a striking dark color.

This plant is very popular among young gardener with unique tastes. The anti-mainstream color of its flowers makes black petunia a favorite of young people who want their homes to look edgy and distinctive.

Black petunia flowers were developed by a lot of horticulturists. The first flower-bidding company to sell these amazing seeds commercially is Ball Colegrave.

The plants were made by experimenting with various color combinations and breeding methods. The company claimed that the dark petunia was developed using natural pollination without any genetic modification.

Furthermore, if you are looking for an uncommon plant as a whimsical accent, this plant probably falls into that category.

A. Black Petunia Meaning

There are many different versions of the black petunia meaning among florists. Some do associate this flower with gloom, bad karma, even death. While others believe that the flower symbolizes strength, uniqueness, and insurrection.

However, in general, the petunia flower is often related to anger or approval. Especially when they are presented by someone who has recently had a big disagreement.

Furthermore, many people believe that petunia symbolizes desire and strong emotion toward someone that you adore for their soothing and peaceful behavior.

Furthermore, in some parts of the world, petunias are often given as typical housewarmings gifts. Many people in Europe and South America also use this flower as a gift at Mother’s Day or other spring celebrations.

B. Some Things to Consider before Growing Black Petunia in Your Garden

First of all, it is important to note that planting black petunia is not much different from planting various other types of petunia. Despite having different color patterns, all of these flowers are still from the same species of seed.

It is also important to know that growing petunia from transplants is way easier than from seed. However, you must also know that growing petunia from seed is very rewarding and enjoyable.

Petunia has good resistance to a lot of different weather condition. However, there are some pests and diseases that can harm these beautiful flowers.

The most common pests for Petunias are aphids and caterpillar. Those little insects can be quite difficult to handle, especially if you do not use pesticide regularly.

Meanwhile, gray mold, leaf spots, and soft rot are the diseases that can stain the beauty of your petunias or even killed them. Do some precaution to reduce the risk of the infections including providing good drainage, maintaining the soil quality, and keeping your garden clean.

Lastly can fertilize the soil to optimize petunia’s growing process. The fertilizer can be used once a month with an adequate dose. When the flowers blossom, you have to remove the dead flower/do deadheading to maintain the blooming period.

C. How to Grow Black Petunia?

Here are some steps to grow black petunia seed:

1. Preparing the Seeds

Petunia seeds are known to be quite slow to germinate. Therefore, it would be better for you to start the process indoors. When the warm planting weather arrives, you those seeds will be ready to be planted outside.

Moreover, petunias seeds are very small. You can make a mixture of the seed with some dry sand to ensure that they can be spread evenly on the growing medium.

Do not over-seeding the medium. Especially if you are using medium or small size flower pot.

2. Planting the Seeds

Make some holes in 2-inch deep flat boxes or peat pots then fill those boxes with moist seed starter mix or soil-less potting mix. Make sure that the boxes are strong enough to contain the soil.

Next, you can start sowing the black petunia seeds. Put them on the holes and make sure that the seeds are in contact with the growing medium and get enough light to help them germinate.

Furthermore, you must note that the whole process should be done by one or two months before Winter. You must also check the boxes frequently to ensure that these seeds are getting enough light and moisture.

3. Maintaining the Growing Process

Watering your petunias too often can cause harm to its development. The plant is very good at handling the heat and can manage to survive in the area with high temperatures. Therefore, you should just water those beautiful flowers once or twice a week.

D. Black Velvet Petunia

One of the best dark petunia seeds you can get on the market is the black velvet petunia. It is popular as the blackest petunia that you can find on the market. Growing some of its seeds will create a strong elegant impression in your garden.

The flower was introduced at California Spring Trials a couple of years ago. It has been brought by multiple seed distributors across the globe since then. The plant becomes very famous in the UK and many countries in Europe.

However, this plant is priced at a fairly expensive price. You are advised not to make this flower seed an experimental material because the price is not cheap. Plant it wisely since the supply of the seeds is usually very limited.

For several years, black flowers have been in hot demand, perhaps as a result of the increasing value of the classical sleek styles of garden design.

However, “black flower” is a misleading term in plant morphology because their color, in fact, are actually really deep red or purple.

Nonetheless, growing black petunia in your backyard will add a lot of benefits. It will make your garden looks captivating and elegant.

Furthermore, It will also make an excellent gift for you as a gardener as the plants will produce beautiful dark flowers from Spring to Winter.

Lastly, in addition to black velvet petunia, you can also plant a variety of other types of petunia that have more striking colors like red, yellow, pink, white, and purple.

Some of the most popular types of colorful petunias are Grandiflora, multiflora, and miliflora petunia.

Are You Ready for a Black Petunia?

I’ve never known a gardener who is blasé about black. That color in a flower has always intrigued some gardeners and repulsed others. When ‘Black Velvet’ bursts onto the garden scene in 2011, there are bound to be both accolades and brickbats. For the time being, the accolades have it by a long shot.

Potted ‘Black Velvet’ in a garden setting

Petunia ‘Phantom’

Petunia ‘Pinstripe’

On July 12, 2010, ‘Black Velvet’ was the star of the Greenhouse Grower’s Association Evening of Excellence. It earned not one but two awards that evening: Industry’s Choice and Reader’s Choice. Even earlier, at the California Spring Trials in April, it was the talk of the show. The selling point and slogan accompanying this petunia, it appears, will be “Black goes with everything!”

There are those who caution that ‘Black Velvet’s’ flower power may strike gardeners as underwhelming. We’ve gotten used to floriferous varieties like the Wave series, the Supertunias, and the Cascadias. Some critics say that although the photos tend to show plants with lots of blossoms, they may not flower particularly well, once planted in the average garden. That claim is based on observations at two trial gardens, one in the city of Buffalo, New York, and one at Penn State’s Lancaster County research farm.

Almost lost in all the hype are two of ‘Black Velvet’s’ sister varieties, rolled out by Ball FloraPlant at the same time: ‘Phantom’ and ‘Pinstripe.’ ‘Phantom’ has a large yellow star on a “black” background. Except for narrower stripes, ‘Pinstripe’ closely resembles ‘Phantom.’ Although almost all the attention is focused on ‘Black Velvet,’ of the three new varieties, ‘Phantom,’ with its beautiful star image and stunning color contrast, is by far my favorite of the three.

But is it really black?

Other Popular “Black”
Click on photos for more information

© Margiempv
Iris ‘Black Tie Affair’

© PurplePansies
Cornflower ‘Black Ball’

© Buttoneer
Hollyhock ‘Jet Black’

© bootandall
Clematis ‘Romantika’

© Bug_Girl
Pansy ‘Black Jack’

As with other “black” flowers, someone is bound to point out that the color is not truly black. Let me be among the first, regarding these petunias. If you look closely at the photo insets at left, you’ll see just a hint of very dark burgundy/purple in the upper right corner in the ‘Black Velvet’ inset. It’s somewhat more noticeable at the edges of the star in ‘Phantom, and most noticeable on ‘Pinstripe,’ where the “black” background bleeds into the stripes profusely.

Although there has been lots of interest in “black” flowers in recent years, with plant breeders exerting great effort to create “black” ones, such blooms were even more popular in Victorian and Edwardian times. Taken together, the “black” flowers of times gone by (but still available today) plus those created in more modern times number over 2,750!

So, do “black” flowers really go with “everything?”

Not as far as I’m concerned. The combining of colors in the garden is a very subjective, individual matter. I don’t care for “black” and red, for instance, while others might think they look fantastic together. Among my favorite colors to pair with “black” are white, gold, pink, and lavender. If you’re a fan of “black” flowers, why not snag a couple of ‘Black Velvet’ petunias next spring and see how they pair up with what else is growing in your garden?!

Growing Your “Black” Petunias

Plant in Sun (at least 6 hrs. of sun)
Space 8-10″ apart
Grows 8-10″ tall by 8-12″ wide
Keep evenly moist
Best if fertilized regularly (or with a slow release fertilizer)

All petunia photos courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company
Thanks to Margiempv, PurplePansies, Buttoneer, bootandall, and Bug_Girl for the use of their PlantFiles photos

Petunia ‘Black Velvet’ with Euphorbia ‘Breathless’

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© Larry Rettig 2010

One of the new bi-colored black petunias, ‘Phantom’.

Black petunias have been promoted for the last couple of years as the latest new and hot thing for consumers to add to their gardens. A fair amount of media interest surrounded these unique varieties, as they were featured in various garden-related publications and garnered some awards. But do these plants live up to the hype? I guess it depends – if you’re a Goth gardener or are just looking for an unusual plant as a quirky accent these probably fit the bill. They certainly can be considered a winner in terms of innovative breeding, but it’s likely these are just a novelty and the fad will fade as some other gardening trend is promoted. Many people bought these initially out of curiosity, but will they keep a permanent place in the landscape?

‘Black Velvet’ petunia flowers.

The first black petunia was developed by Ball FloraPlant. It took flower breeder Jianping Ren four years to create the dully-named cultivar ‘Balpevec’ using traditional breeding techniques. This plant is available from W. Atlee Burpee & Co. marketed exclusively as ‘Black Cat’ (billed as “the world’s only black petunia”). It is also sold as ‘Black Velvet’ by a number of suppliers. As the name suggests, it has a velvety texture and appears as a true black, even though it is actually a very, dark purple. The plants are relatively small and mounding instead of trailing, getting only 8-12″ across. They tend to have a tightly branched growth habit at first, but can get scraggly later in the season, especially if not fertilized well.

‘Phantom’ petunia flowers.

Black Velvet’s companions ‘Phantom’ and ‘Pinstripe’ were also developed by Ball. ‘Phantom’ is a near-black flower with an eye-catching chartreuse-yellow star pattern.

‘Pinstripe’ petunia flowers.

‘Pinstripe’ has a similar pattern on dark petals, with thinner white or pink bands that gradate into purple. These flowers are quite striking, and seem to show up better in the garden with their bi-colored petals than the solid black ones. Last year Ball introduced ‘Black Cherry’, a dark maroon the color of really ripe cherries, with a shimmer to the petals in the sun.

A mass of ‘Pinstripe’ petunias.

Supposedly black goes with everything and some gardeners will agree with that. But others find the dark color difficult to work with. It certainly doesn’t show up from a distance and completely disappears when the light dims. They can look dull in a large planting, so are best used as an accent. They are great in mixed containers where they can be viewed up close and in contrast to other, brighter flowers. The solid black petunias are quite dramatic and sophisticated-looking when combined with white flowers, such as nemesia, bacopa, or ‘Diamond Frost’ euphorbia. They also look good combined with plants with silver foliage, such as dusty miller.

‘Phantom’ petunia contrasts with golden hakone grass (foreground) and other petunias in a mixed planting.

‘Phantom’ combines nicely with yellow flowers or foliage, such yellow calibrachoa, lantana or feathery Bidens, while ‘Pinstripe’ mixes better with plants in the pink to purple range. It mixes well with ‘Firework’ fountain grass, pastel alyssum, or pale pink petunias. But color combinations in the garden are subjective, and everyone has their individual preferences. If these combos don’t strike your fancy, grow some late in the season in an orange pot and bring indoors as a Halloween decoration!

These plants generally are vigorous, but many reports indicate they have non-uniform growth and low to moderate flowering that leaves gaps with a lot of the foliage visible. And depending on the weather and sun exposure, the blossoms may look more purple than black, especially on the back side of the petals. The all black varieties may revert to show some yellow stripes when stressed by heat or drought. And in the garden the plants may not be as floriferous as in the promotional pictures.

A mass of ‘Black Velvet’ petunias showing many gaps exposing the foliage.

There are no glowing reports on the performance of these petunias in plant trials or even anecdotal reports by blogging gardeners after the initial flurry of media attention in 2011 and 2012. The plants did respectably in annual plant trials at Michigan State University (2010), Ohio State University (2010) and Penn State University (2011 and 2012), all scoring 3.5 or better . Both ‘Black Velvet’ and ‘Pinstripe’ receiving an overall average rating of 4.25, although ‘Black Velvet’ generally had consistently higher rankings compared to the others in the same trials. ‘Phantom’ only managed a 4.0, dragged down by low rakings at Penn State in 2012 when the plants suffered foliar necrosis and chlorosis and therefore exhibited very low flower density. But even though these cultivars were considered “good” in most trials, there are many other much better cultivars out there. ‘Black Velvet’ and ‘Phantom’ were both in the lower ¼ of all petunias trialed at Penn State (‘Pinstripe’ was not included in those trials), although ‘Black Velvet’ did make up into the top half (barely) in 2012. None made it into the “best of” group in any of the many trials with results available on the web.

Personally, I think the bi-colors are the most interesting in containers or the landscape, mainly because the bright portion of them shows up more than the black! What do you think?

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison

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Botanic Superlatives: The Blackest Flower

By Anna Laurent


Petunia is the new black. Adored by designers and admired by breeders, Petunia Black Velvet is the new darling in a trend towards black-flowered plants. The cultivar dazzled last season’s garden shows, and will be darkening this year’s gardens. “We’re always trying to push the boundaries,” says Stuart Lowen, marketing manager of Ball Horticulture, who developed Petunia Black Velvet (Petunia x hybrida). “The public always want something that’s a novelty. Black is the holy grail for plant breeders. Everyone wants black plants.”

Learn about more black-flowered plants. (Photo by: Ball Horticultural)

Black flowers and leaves have been in vogue for several years, perhaps a nod to garden design’s contemporary minimalist styles. In plant morphology, however, black is a misnomer. Among the color pigments produced by flowers and fruits, black is absent. Black flowers are actually deep shades of red or purple, in the case of the Black Velvet petunia. Dark hues are created by crossing varieties with high levels of anthocyanins-the pigments that reveal as red, purple, and blue. Flower breeder Jianping Ren spent four years developing the black petunia. “The black colour did not exist in petunias before, so it has to come from the right recombination of a novel color mutant and multiple regular color genetic backgrounds,” she said. Thus the dramatic new flowers are the result of patience, experimentation, and pollenation, rather than any genetic modification. “Lots of old fashioned hard work in the greenhouse. That’s what it took,” says Ping.

Petunia Black Velvet’s catchline is “black goes with anything,” and, when compares with its dark-flowered compatriots-the Viola Bowles Black pansy or Althea nigra hollyhock-it is considered the blackest flower of them all, a superlative title afforded by the petunia’s naturally velvety texture.

When the elegant petunia was launched at last year’s California Spring Trials (an event roughly analogous to Fashion Week in hype and status), news traveled fast: across the United States, and across the pond. This month, after a year of field trials in the U.K. to ensure climate toleration, the black petunia was introduced to U.K. plant catalogs and garden centers. Even so, petunias originate in South America and would bow to a harsh winter, so these should be treated as annuals.

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