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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Petunia ‘Black Velvet’: New for 2011

Posted by Graham Rice on 19 Oct 2010 at 01:09 PM

Petunia,Black,Black Velvet,Ball Horticultural. Image ©BallHort.comYes, the first ever black petunia. And it’s not just dark purple, it really is black with just a hint of purple in some conditions. Launched with the catch line “Black goes with everything”, this is a breakthrough from one of the world’s leading petunia breeders; they’ve bred many of the varieties we already grow.

Almost everyone loves black pansies and now, for an unmistakeable summer display, we have a black petunia.

This is not a variety that’s raised from seed, like the Surfinia petunias ‘Black Velvet’ is raised from cuttings. And this is a relatively upright petunia, ideal for mixed containers but less suitable for hanging baskets. It’s easy to grow, treat it like any other petunia, and plants branch freely without the need for pinching; in fact pinching will only cause flowering to be delayed for about two weeks.

Petunia,Black,Black Velvet,Ball Horticultural. Image ©BallHort.comPetunia ‘Black Velvet’ is being promoted as the equivalent of the Little Black Dress or the black leather jacket: it goes with anything, the breeders say. Well, that’s a matter of opinion, I suppose, I'm not sure that a black leather jacket goes with everything. But with dainty white bacopa, with lime green coleus as a background or with Helichrysum ‘Limelight’ snaking through it, or with other petunias in yellow, deep red or white – there are plenty of options. Personally, I like the idea of choosing a coleus as a companion in a shade that you think goes well with the black.

From the same stable as ‘Black Velvet’ are ‘Phantom’, black with a gold star pattern, and ‘Pinstripe’, deepest purple with a slim pink star. These are on their way, but are not yet available to order. I'll tell you when they are.

Petunia ‘Black Velvet’ is available from Unwins and also from Mr Fothergills.

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