Petunias in my Parkway 2002–2013
This how it all started in Aug 2002. Seeds of Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis) migrated from the garden on the other side of the sidewalk into the lawn on the parkway, along with the seeds of a few Showy Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia speciosa var. sullivantii).
June 2005 The area is larger and Butterfly Weed has found its way into the garden, as well.
July 2005 Remember the drought of 05? Kentucky Bluegrass went dormant, but Wild Petunia is unfazed.
July 2007 Wild Petunia has seeded itself into another part of the parkway lawn. I mowed the grass around the thickest patches, but one can mow over them and the next days new flowers will emerge and bloom..
August 2011 The Wild Petunia has scattered itself throughout the parkway. It was regularly mowed, but that didn’t stop it from blooming. New flowers popped up every day.
July 2012 Worst drought since the 30’s. Grass is dormant, and Wild Petunia has been set back, but it still is growing and blooming. I did not water it at all.
August 2013 today. The Wild Petunia has completely taken over the lawn–isn’t it gorgeous? Actually, the grass is still there, but the Wild Petunia evidently keeps it from growing more than a few inches tall. This space never needs mowing, fertilizing, herbiciding, or watering.
The brand new, cheerful, lavender-blue trumpets of Wild Petunia greet the dawn every morning. Its blossoms do indeed resemble the annual petunias with which we’re familiar, but their blossoms are smaller and not as flared. On sunny days the flowers close by afternoon. A sprawling plant, the gray-green foliage puffs and billows over the edge of many of my sidewalks
In nature, Wild Petunia is found in dry open ground and remnants of gravelly hill prairies. It blooms in July and August.
In a garden, I like to combine it with Nodding Wild Onion (Allium cernuum)and Purple Prairie Clover (Petalostemum purpureum) and tuck them between clumps of Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolis heterolepis) along a sidewalk edge. It also combines well with Purple Love Grass (Eragrostis spectabilis) along a garden edge.
Always delightful, it seeds itself about with abandonment: in a sidewalk crack (above)
or even a pile of leaves in the gutter.
If you have an open sunny area in your yard, make room for this wonderful plant. It is said to be attractive to Hummingbirds and resistant to deer, but I have no personal knowledge of either situation.