Photo and article by Donna Iverson
No one seemed to know the name of the flowers that looked like a tiny petunias. Yet they were everywhere ..in hanging baskets, window boxes, raised beds and along garden edges.
They were multicolored, in shades of red, yellow, orange, pink, blue, purple and cream ..often in the same hanging basket.
Searching the internet on the term “tiny petunias” turned up the plant’s name: Calibrachoa. No wonder no one knew their name. Further research revealed that they are also called “million bells” a name which has been trademarked.
An annual, Calibrachoa flowers look like tiny petunias and last through the summer and into the fall. Their sticky leaves and colorful flowers attract both butterflies and hummingbirds. Deer aren’t fond of them although they are not listed as deer resistant. Six to twelves inches in height, they are native to South America.
Calibrachoa can be grown from seed or cuttings. But it is technically illegal to propagate them from cuttings because their name is trademarked. They are mostly easily grown by purchasing them from nurseries. In late summer, it helps to cut them back and administer a dose of slow-release fertilizer.
So is Calibrachoa related to the petunia? At one time, they were classified as the same genus, but they have been since separated into two plant families ..Calibrachoa and the petunia genus.