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Petunias in every color of the rainbow are the favorite annual bedding plants and container plants of many gardeners. Easy to care for, colorful in bloom and attractive wherever you plant them, petunias come in a wide righty of shapes, sizes and colors.

From gorgeous specimen plants to container fillers and border edgers, to the massive cascading drapes of bloom provided by wave petunias, these versatile and dependable powerhouses continue to provide gardeners with new exciting choices every year.

Petunias and their close relatives range in size from the tiny super bells or million bells to the large blooming, showcase petunia varieties, as well as double or pom-pom petunias.

There are petunias the trail, petunias that mound and petunias that form a low-growing carpet of color.

Petunias grow best in full sun, where their colorful blooms create masses of vibrant excitement wherever they are planted.

Combining petunias with other annuals in hanging baskets, containers and directly in the garden bed is a fun way to create garden magic with plants. Select plants with interesting textures, growth forms and complementary or contrasting colors to create rich and beautiful combinations.

Some of my favorite petunia companions are ornamental grasses, sun loving coleus, heliotrope, gaura, lantana, verbena and geraniums with striking foliage.

Here is a sampling of some of my favorite newer petunias.

Night Sky — One of the hottest selling petunias over the past few years, this plant features deep, blackish purple flowers with white stars splattered and sprinkled over the top. The resulting effect truly does look like a night sky full of stars.

Blackberry Cheesecake — A gorgeous blend of cream, wine, purple, maroon and black, this petunia is as scrumptious as its namesake dessert.

Totally Lime — I've always loved petunias in vibrant lime green and there are many varieties that show off this color well. I tend to buy these in bloom so I can see the color for myself, as many labeled as lime turn out much more yellow. Lime green petunias can be matched with just about any color, especially pinks, black, purple and yellow.

Salmon — One of the hottest colors in plant breeding and hybridizing currently is salmon and apricot. These melon shades are available in many varieties of petunias that show off this beautiful color.

Indian Summer — An intriguing blend of many shades of orange, pink and a kiss of lime, every bloom on this plant is slightly different. Like the fall colors of Indian summer, the plant transforms throughout the season, creating a very interesting effect.

Sparky — I truly enjoy plants that produce blooms where are no two are alike. That is the case with Sparky, where each bloom is a crazy, swirled mixture of lime green and maroon. Some flowers maybe wholly one color, while others are inter-mixed with delightful, and predictable patterns of each.

Find Rob Zimmer online at www.robzimmeroutdoors.com. On Facebook at www.facebook.com/RobZimmerOutdoors. Listen to Outdoors with Rob Zimmer, Saturday mornings, 7 to 8 AM, on WHBY.

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