You want the best for your customers. Quality is king. After all, it is your name on the invoice. But what if you could get the same quality plant, or better, for a much lower price? What if that product was also easier to grow, saved on labor, PGRs and lighting? You’d jump at it, right? Well this year Benary’s SUCCESS!® Petunia Series from seed has proven in trials all over North America that they perform just as well, or better than vegetative petunias. In the past, seed petunias were seen as weaker, not well branched and not uniform enough for a premium program. Those days are over! The SUCCESS!® Series not only has the vigor and superior branching needed for premium containers, but SUCCESS!® can also be grown at a higher density. Add to that excellent garden performance and you have a recipe for SUCCESS!®. The vigor and timing are so uniform that all the colors can be grown under the same timing, lighting conditions and PGR regimes. No more custom schedules or PGRs for each color! Bred by one of the top petunia breeders under extremely low-light conditions, SUCCESS!® Petunias are the most day-length neutral series on the market, which also means they are the earliest petunia series on the market.
Here are a few testimonials about this amazing series. Petunia SUCCESS!® Rose — Averaged 5 out of 5 all season. “Very happy with the entire SUCCESS!® Series. They held their own against the vegetatively propagated petunias.” — 2015 Michigan State University Trials
“The SUCCESS!® cultivars were excellent greenhouse performers. The compact plants bloomed earlier and heavier than many other seed cultivars. They stood up well in the trials despite fluctuating weather, and had abundant flowers all season long, with ‘White’ and ‘Pink’ receiving high enough ratings to make it on the Prairie Star list of recommended cultivars for the Great Plains region.” — 2015 Robin Ruether, Kansas State University
Petunia SUCCESS!® White- “This color received excellent marks in the container trials in eastern Kansas, and it is also one of the best performers at the trials in western part of the state. Where petunias often suffer from iron chlorosis because of the high-pH soils. This cultivar had green growth and kept right on blooming those crisp white flowers.” — Horticulture Magazine Great Garden Plants
But I did say these were less expensive, right? So, let’s talk production costs. Depending on your volume of cuttings ordered, your price for a vegetatively propagated petunia is probably between 16 cents and 23 cents per unrooted cutting, or 33 cents to 40 cents per rooted cutting. Don’t forget to add in the royalty, freight, and other production costs. Check out the summary on page 16 of how the average production costs of seed and vegetative petunias really stack up.
Still not convinced? Let’s also keep in mind that seed is available overnight versus a 10-day minimum lead time for cuttings. You also have to keep the vegetative inventory cooler for extended periods of time or stick them immediately upon arrival. There are also far fewer viral risks for seed petunias. So if you’re done waiting for cuttings that are sitting on the airport tarmac, let’s get started growing your SUCCESS!®
Here are the differences between growing vegetative petunias and SUCCESS!® Petunias from seed:
Light is necessary for germination, but at much lower levels than that used for rooting vegetative petunias. If using a germination chamber provide just 10 to 100 foot candles (100 to1,000 lux) during germination. Petunias need long days to flower. To initiate buds under short days, extend day length to 14 hours. Under long days with low light conditions, supplemental lighting of 350 to 500 foot candles (3,500 to 5,000 lux) may be necessary. Provide 3,500 to 5,000 foot candles (35,000 to 50,000 lux) in the finishing stages.
Unlike vegetative, SUCCESS!® Petunias can easily be grown in high density trays (288 tray) with the lowest risk for viral or bacterial diseases. SUCCESS!® Petunias are much faster than vegetatively propagated varieties. A 288 tray takes 4 to 5 weeks from sowing. From a 288, you can finish a 4-inch (10 cm) pot in 5 to 6 weeks; a 6-inch pot (12 cm) in 6 to 7 weeks; and a 10-inch basket (25 cm) in 8 to 9 weeks.
After sowing, keep the temperature at 72 to 76 °F (22-24°C) until radicle emergence and then reduce to 68-70 °F (20-21°C) on day 5. Once cotyledons have expanded, lower the temperature further to 65 to 68°F (18-20°C). Bottom heat is not necessary, but will help keep soil temperatures constant.
Seed germination does not require the constant mist that vegetative production does so you can avoid the algae, fungus gnats and pathogens associated with the propagation environment. With Success! begin by watering with enough water to dissolve the pellets and saturate the media. Do not allow pellets to dry out. Maintain saturated media for 3 to 4 days or until radicle emergence, then you can progressively reduce the media moisture. Keep the humidity in the germination chamber or tent at 95 to 100 percent during germination then reduce to 40 to 60 percent. Provide proper ventilation and horizontal airflow to improve oxygen levels in the media.
Transplant 4 to 5 weeks from sowing using a 288 plug tray as soon as roots reach the edge of the cell and can be removed easily.
SUCCESS!™ Petunias are less day length sensitive and require fewer growth regulators than other trailing petunias. Proper temperature control will encourage a well branched habit and limit the need for PGRs. Maintain temperatures > 55°F (13°C) nights for the first 6 weeks to initiate flower bud development; night temperatures can be lowered further to 50°F (10°C) to encourage basal branching and compactness; however, lower temperatures may also substantially decrease the number of flowers initiated. An average daily temperature of 67°F (19°C) will give the fastest finished crop. PGRs can be used, but should be applied before buds are visible. Late applications can delay flowering and reduce flower size. Apply fungicides during long periods of low light and high humidity.
Unrooted cuttings lose 10 to 15 percent of their nutrition each week during their 4-week rooting process. These cuttings are in the Intensive Care Unit, which means that you need to replace those carbohydrates and nutrients through fertilization and the cuttings don’t yet have roots to take them up. Use of foliar feed is a trick proposition. Seed has all the nutrients it needs for germination, so you won’t need to fertilize as much until roots develop. In fact you can feed at just 100 to 200 ppm nitrogen using an ammonium-based feed under high light conditions, and a calcium-based feed under low light conditions to prevent stretching. Then fertilize with Potassium nitrate at 100 ppm 1 to 2 weeks prior to shipping to maintain post-harvest quality.
For more detailed cultural information about growing SUCCESS! ® Petunias, contact your Benary sales reps or visit our website at www.Benary.comErnst Benary of America: