This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
A small genus of South American herbaceous often viscid perennials. Leaves simple. Flowers solitary and axillary. Calyx 5-lobed; lobes spoon-shaped. Corolla funnel- or salver-shaped; limb 5-lobed, spread. Stamens 5, included, unequal. Fruit capsular, 2-celled, many-seeded. Petun is the Brazilian for Tobacco.
Fig. 181. Petunia violacea. (1/4 nat. size.)
Fig. 182. Petunia nyctaginiflora. (1/4 nat. size.)
1. P. violacea (fig. 181). - This is one of the parents of the numerous hybrid varieties now in cultivation. A weak straggling herb with viscid pilose shortly petiolate leaves and violet, lilac, white or striped flowers with a short tube.
2. P.nyctaginiflora (fig. 182). - A stouter more erect-growing plant, in the wild form with white or yellow flowers remark-able for the long narrow tube of the corolla. The cut does not show this character, and was probably taken from one of the hybrid forms.
These two species cross with the greatest facility, and thus new varieties are constantly being raised. There are double and single, from deep violet and crimson to pure white, with many curious parti-coloured and variegated varieties. There are also some handsome varieties reticulated with dark purple on a rosy or carmine ground. Both species are perennial, but they will succeed well if treated as annuals.
P. phoenicea and P. intermedia are almost forgotten now; the former is a strong-growing species with purple flowers about an inch in diameter, and the latter a small compact plant with smaller yellow and purple flowers.