Wild petunia is a low-growing, late spring to early fall perennial with lilac or blue flowers and light to medium green foliage. The funnel-shaped flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. It is a lovely addition to rock gardens, naturalized areas, beds, and borders, and it can even be planted in containers. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region and current research.
Size and method of spreading:
Wild petunia reaches a height of up to 1 foot and a spread of 1 ½ to 2 feet at maturity. It spreads by self-seeding.
Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)
Wild petunia is native to the Eastern and Central United States. C Value: 8.
Attracts birds or pollinators:
Wild petunia attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.
Wild petunia has leaves that grow in opposite pairs along the stems. The leaves are light to medium green and hairy. They grow up to 2 to 2.5 inches long and 1 inch wide (ovate to lanceolate). The wild petunia leaves may attach to the stem directly (sessile) or may have short stalks (petioles).
Wild petunia has flowers that grow individually or in small clusters from the upper leaf axils, and are typically a lilac color but can also be light blue. The flowers are individually short-lived, but the plants will continuously bloom from May to October. The flowers are funnel-shaped and have a similar shape to that of cultivated petunias. The flowers of wild petunia have a 1 ½- to 3- inch long, petallike, tubular structure (corolla) that divides into five rounded lobes at the top. Purple lines radiate around the throat of the corolla tube. Visible from inside the corolla tube are four white to purple structures in two sets of uneven pairs (didynamous stamens) with white to tan colored pollen structures on the tips (anthers). Also protruding from the corolla is another white-to-purple structure (style) with a divided tip (stigma). The constricted base of the corolla tube is surrounded by a short, hairy, leaflike tube (calyx) that divides into five long, pointed (linear) lobes at the tip.
The fruit of wild petunia are smooth, dry, and split into two at maturity (capsules). They are straw-colored when ripe. When the fruit splits, it does so with so much force that the popping sound it makes is audible. The force of the splitting causes the seeds to eject, allowing the wild petunia to self-seed.
For more blooms per plant, supplemental watering is recommended.
List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:
Wild petunia is not susceptible to major pest or disease issues. Wild petunia can tolerate drought conditions and dry soils. It can also tolerate well-draining clay soils.