The Crimson Petunia
Hibberd remarked that the petunia’s (Petunia phoenecia) usefulness rested first on its beauty, and next on the ease with which it could be adapted to different decorative effects within the garden.
The best way to grow petunias was to sow the seed thinly in a well made border about mid-April. As soon as the seedlings had three or four leaves, they could be thinned, and those taken out replanted elsewhere. When in flower the best should be marked and, if the gardener wished to perpetuate them, cuttings could be taken about August, five or six together in five inch pots in sandy loam, then placed in a greenhouse or frame for the winter.
The gardener could also purchase plants of the best varieties, and save seeds from those.
The petunia is a ‘very nearly hardy’ plant, needed good air and a light, rich sandy soil. The Victorian gardener would also stake the plants as they became ‘leggy’.
If kept under glass during summer the petunia invariably became infested with green-fly, the only Victorian remedy being to fumigate with tobacco smoke (do not do this yourself).
Information and image taken from F. Edward Hulme and Shirley Hibberd, Familiar Garden Flowers (Cassell, Peter, Galpin and Co.: London: c. 1890), 5 vols.