11 Top Varieties of Petunia

Your great-grandma grew beloved heirloom petunias, but she wouldn’t believe the diversity breeders have achieved in this annual garden favorite. From their discovery in South America in the late 1700s to modern F1 hybrids and Supertunias of today, this flower has captivated flower gardeners for centuries. Even if you haven’t sorted out your grandifloras from your floribundas, you will find a favorite on this list to work in your borders or container garden.

Petunias are tender perennials that are normally grown as annuals in every climate, although in zones 10 to 11 they are reliably hardy. There are about 20 species in the Petunia genus, all native to South America, but those grown as garden plants are almost always hybrids, most of them derived from  P. axillaris and P. integrifolia. Petunias are often classified according to their form by terms such as Grandiflora (large flowers), Multiflora (smaller, more plentiful flowers), Wave (spreading), Supertunia (larger than Wave petunias, with a similar spilling growth habit), Cascadia (long, pendulous stems) and Surfinia (trailing stems with small, bell-shaped flowers).

There are literally hundreds of excellent cultivars of petunia in all the various growth habits, but here are 11 great hybrids to consider.

Gardening Tip

Even a large garden center is likely to carry a relatively small number of hybrid petunias each year. To grow the more unusual varieties—including some of the hybrids described here—you'll probably have to purchase seeds online and start the tiny seeds indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the outdoor planting date. Sprinkle the tiny seeds over a tray filled with seed starter mix, and place it in a warm, bright location until the seeds germinate and sprout into seedlings. Petunias are warm-weather plants, so make sure to harden the seedlings off before transplanting into the garden once the soil warms to at least 70 degrees.

  • 01 of 11

    'Limelight' (Petunia x hybrida 'Limelight')

    Limelight Petunia

    National Garden Bureau

    Like the zinnia variety of the same name, ‘Limelight’ petunias show that gardeners are hungry for the trendy magenta and lime green color combo in the garden. A 2013 introduction, the tidy, compact growth habit of this petunia works well at the front of the border.

    Native Areas: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 2–11 (hardy in zones 10–11)

    Height: 10 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • 02 of 11

    'Cascadias Rim Magenta' (Petunia x hybrida 'Cascadias Rim Magenta')

    Purple Petunia with White Rim

    National Garden Bureau

    Some dark flowers seem to fade into the background, but the creamy margin of ‘Cascadias Magenta Rim’ makes the flower pop in mixed containers and hanging baskets. Like others in the ‘Cascadias’ series, this Danziger introduction is a vigorous mounding plant with a trailing growth habit.

    Native Areas: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 2–11 (hardy in zones 10–11)

    Height: 10–16 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • 03 of 11

    'Fortunia Early Blue Vein' (Petunia x hybrida 'Fortunia Early Blue Vein')

    Blue Vein Petunia

    National Garden Bureau

    The ‘Fortunia’ series of petunias was developed as a day-neutral breed, which means that gardeners can expect an earlier blooming time. It has a more compact growth habit than many other petunias. ‘Fortunia Early Blue Vein’ has an almost silvery appearance, which pairs well with other silver plants such as dusty miller. For an alternative silver petunia variety, you can try ‘Tidal Wave Silver,’ an All-America Selections (AAS) winner.

    Native Areas: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 2–11 (hardy in zones 10–11)

    Height: 8–11 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • 04 of 11

    'Mini Rose Blast Pink' (Petunia x hybrida 'Mini Rose Blast Pink')

    Mini Rose Petunia

    National Garden Bureau

    Gardeners are usually divided in their opinions about bicolored flowers such as the petunia ‘Mini Rose Blast Pink.’ If you find the tie-dye like pattern gorgeous rather than garish, you will appreciate the highly branched, compact growth habit of these plants. Try pairing them with a petunia in a complementary solid color to match the dark or pale pink tones of ‘Mini Rose Blast.’

    Native Areas: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 2–11 (hardy in zones 10–11)

    Height: 4–8 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    'Prism Sunshine' (Petunia x hybrida 'Prism Sunshine')

    Yellow Petunia

    National Garden Bureau

    Bright yellowish-green flowers like ‘Prism Sunshine’ petunia will always be in demand, due to their versatility in garden design. The neutral hue works with any garden color scheme, including pinks, reds, blues, and white. Best of all, this great-grandma is available as seed, so you can grow a few flats to fill in blanks in all of your containers and flower beds.

    Native Areas: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 2–11 (hardy in zones 10–11)

    Height: 10–12 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • 06 of 11

    'Purple Pirouette' (Petunia x hybrida 'Purple Pirouette')

    Double Petunia

    National Garden Bureau

    What’s not to like about the ‘Purple Pirouette’ petunia?   Tobacco budworms. The abundance of lush petals seems to lure the caterpillar pest from miles around. Nevertheless, if you occasionally have a problem with these pests, you should include this stunning annual in your garden. If you include only one or two plants in a mixed container garden, you might just escape the notice of the budworm. A dusting of Bt can also keep the horde in check.

    Native Areas: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 2–11 (hardy in zones 10–11)

    Height: 10–15 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • 07 of 11

    'Potunia Plus Red' (Petunia x hybrida 'Ponunia Plus Red')

    Red Petunia

    National Garden Bureau

    This petunia has all of the attributes that hummingbirds desire, including a large trumpet shape and a delicious bright red color that never fades. Like other petunias in the ‘Potunia’ series, this variety requires less water than most petunias, helping it to survive and thrive in hot, dry gardens.

    Native Areas: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 2–11 (hardy in zones 10–11)

    Height: 10–12 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • 08 of 11

    'Wave Blue' (Petunia x hybrida 'Wave Blue')

    Blue Wave Petunia
    Photo © National Garden Bureau

    While the rest of the world waits for the development of a perfect true blue rose, we can be content to grow easy blue flowers like the petunia ‘Wave Blue.’ Let two or three plants take over your sunny window box, and discover why this variety won the AAS award and a Fleuroselect gold medal.

    Native Areas: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 2–11 (hardy in zones 10–11)

    Height: 8–10 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    'Surprise Lime' (Petunia x hybrida 'Surprise Lime')

    Lime Petunia

    National Garden Bureau

    White petunias are de rigueur in the moon garden, where their nocturnal fragrance and glowing petals attract hummingbird moths. The delicate chartreuse throats of this variety also provide interest in the daylight and keep the blooms from looking washed out in bright light. The Surprise series are large mounding plants with a trailing habit.

    Native Areas: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 2–11 (hardy in zones 10–11)

    Height: 12–18 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • 10 of 11

    'Sweetunia White Merlot '(Petunia x hybrida 'Sweetunia White Merlot')

    Sweetunia

    National Garden Bureau

    If you’ve ever seen a petunia hanging basket hanging from a city lamppost or public park that looked like a giant ball of flowers, you were probably looking at one of the ‘Sweetunia’ series petunias. These low-maintenance flowers shrug off the harsh conditions of pavement and city smog, covering every inch of branch space with blooms.

    Native Areas: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 2–11 (hardy in zones 10–11)

    Height: 8 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • 11 of 11

    'Suncatcher Pink Lemonade' (Petunia x hybrida 'Suncatcher Pink Lemonade')

    Pink Lemonade Petunia

    National Garden Bureau

    You’ll put ‘Suncatcher Pink Lemonade’ in your shopping basket for its sunrise glow, and you’ll add this trailing petunia to your list of favorites for its mildew-resistance and early flowering nature.

    Native Areas: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to South America

    USDA Growing Zones: 2–11 (hardy in zones 10–11)

    Height: 12 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade