Petunia Queen of Hearts feature image

There’s a common misconception that romance is dead. Well, I’m here to tell you that, in the plant world, it’s very much alive – in the unlikely form of the Petunia!

Petunia Queen of Hearts

You might have read that in disbelief. After all, the Petunia is a bit of an everyday flower, how could that possibly be linked to love and stuff? But, did you know that Petunias can also symbolise the desire to spend time with someone because you find them peaceful and relaxing to be around? If that’s not an indication of love, I’m not sure what is! But, with AMORE™ QUEEN OF HEARTS you can actually SEE the love in every flower!

But, first…

The history of the Petunia

Petunia Queen of Hearts

Part of the Solanaceae family, the Petunia is a relative of a whole host of plants that you may not expect, from tobacco and tomato, to chillies and deadly nightshade.

The Petunia was discovered in the 1600s by Spanish explorers in South America. In the local language, the flower was called ‘Petun’, and it was actually considered ugly by natives. Can you believe that?? Nevertheless, the explorers brought a sample back to Spain. But it was generally ignored until around 300 years later, when more Spanish explorers were sent to Argentina, and sourced more samples of the plant. It’s like being in a meeting at work where everyone ignores your idea, and then does it a year later!

Double flowered Petunia

A double flowered Petunia

Anyway… it wasn’t long before breeders all over Europe had the same idea, and they began travelling to Argentina and crossing their own samples to achieve more colour variations and larger flowers. In 1932, Japanese breeders created the first consistently double flowered Petunia, which caused a real stir! Since then, breeders have been competing for the best, biggest and most colourful Petunias that can be created, whilst cementing it as a staple plant for patio containers and window boxes right across Europe!

How are Petunias bred?

Petunia Queen of Hearts

It takes a keen eye to breed Petunias. Most modern day breeding focusses on F1 hybrids, this means that they are selectively bred by cross pollinating two parent plants. It can take a lot of work and expense to get it right.

The loveheart in the Petunia's petals

With Petunias, breeders first select a plant that has desirable characteristics, then they repeatedly cross it with itself until they achieve a ‘pure’ line of plants that all have these desirable characteristics. If they repeat this same process with another Petunia, they can cross pollinate these ‘perfect’ plants, and create offspring that (hopefully) have both of the selected traits.

It’s not always successful, and sometimes breeders want more than two traits in a new variety, making the process even more complex.

The discovery of Petunia AMORE™ QUEEN OF HEARTS

The Petunia AMORE™ QUEEN OF HEARTS came to market after a breeder at Israel-based plant company Danziger saw a red love-heart in its petals. It didn’t actually involve any of the fancy and expensive breeding, all it took was an observant member of staff with love on their mind…
Michael Perry at Danziger

Me at Danziger’s HQ, where they developed the Petunia Queen of Hearts!

Although many were seeing stripes in the petals of the plant, it took a different outlook to ‘read between the stripes’ and see the love-heart as this particular plant’s unique signature.

Michael Perry at Danziger
This discovery really opened up the Petunia market to beginner gardeners, who saw the cute love-hearts and flocked to buy them for their own gardens. Now, the pure sight of Petunia AMORE™ QUEEN OF HEARTS in an Instagram post causes people to rush to their nearest garden centre or check plant stockists’ website online. We know this for a fact, thanks to my Instagram post about the plant, I was invited to Israel to go behind the scenes at the Danziger breeding facility!

Why are Petunias so popular?

Petunia Queen of Hearts

Petunias are popular with gardeners year on year for several reasons:

  1. They’re easy to care for. Aside from a sprinkle of water and a rich feed every now and then, Petunias don’t need much attention. They’re relatively drought tolerant plants too. So if you’re a keen traveller, your elected plant carer will only have to water them every few days during your absence!
  2. They come in a range of colours, almost every colour of the rainbow I reckon! Petunias are available in red, pink, white, purple, burgundy, and almost-black shades (although the latter is rare). These flowers can also be obtained with patterned flowers; shapes can include stars, hearts, veins and much more!
  3. They flower dramatically and range in habits from mounded to trailing. They’re perfect for use as bedding plants, in pots, in window boxes and in hanging baskets.
  4. They repel pests. Petunias are said to repel tomato hornworms, aphids, leafhoppers, squash bugs, and asparagus beetles from having a chomp at your plants.
  5. They attract pollinators. While not being as attractive to bees as other flowers, they also attract hawk moths and hummingbirds (depending on your location). Of course, extra pollinators in the garden is great for booting our fruit and veg crops too!

An alternative Valentine’s gift

Petunia Queen of Hearts

Roses, although beautiful, have become so overdone as Valentine’s Day gifts that may have actually lost their meaning. In 2010, an estimated 198 million roses were produced for the Valentine’s Day holiday! Therefore, if so many are being sold, they’re no longer a unique gift…
If you feel like your beau is worthy of more, and you want to gift them something really unexpected this Valentine’s Day, the PetuniaAMORE™ QUEEN OF HEARTS is the perfect alternative. It might take a second for them to spot the little hearts in the petals, but once they do, they’ll realise that your gift was far more thoughtful than the bouquet of roses purchased from the petrol station!

Not only is the Petunia AMORE™ QUEEN OF HEARTS a more discreet and unique profession of your love – it’s a longer lasting gift, too. A bouquet of cut roses last, at most, a couple of weeks. However, a baby Petunia AMORE™ QUEEN OF HEARTS can be handed to your loved one, grown on to flower into the summer, spreading love all along the way!

Would you buy these flowers as an alternative Valentine’s Day gift? Let me know in the comments section!

You can also listen the The Plant Based Podcast’s special episode asking two plant companies how they create new varieties (including Danziger, creator of the Petunia AMORE™ QUEEN OF HEARTS). Listen here.


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