Much ado about petunias.

Last summer a page-sized article appeared in the Dutch newspaper NRC entitled: "The riddle of the orange petunias." Well, the NRC being a newspaper quiet similar to the (NY) Times, is not a newspaper you easily associate with information about petunias. Instantly my curiosity rose.

What is going on? In brief: A Finnish professor of botany saw some orange petunias at a train station (petunia African Sunset). For your information, petunias don not (ever) flower in orange. By chance, he knew about a field experiment in 1987 from a particular institute. A gene of maize was placed in white petunias. The offspring’s happened to be pale orange.

The Finnish professor subsequently investigated the station's orange petunias. And as it turned out: the maize gene was in it! Thus these petunias were genetically modified, which is not allowed. Because of this, these petunias had to be destroyed. A shocking experience for the petunia breeders! Consequently all Dutch breeders received a list of all orange seeds and plants of the Petunia species that had to be destroyed. Most certainly this will have caused a financial disaster!

To verify my new acquired knowledge I contact the Huyskweker - my supplier of annuals - and ask her whether she is aware of all of this. "Most certainly" she told me, "I received an e-mail on this matter". Fortunately the orange petunias she is selling are not on the forbidden list.

In case you bought some of these orange petunias, don’t worry. You can keep them in your garden. These plants are annuals, so they will freeze in winter. But can we plant orange petunias in the hanging basket next year? I do not think so.

We will just have to use orange begonias as we used to!

New followers a warm welcome!

Orange petunia in a hanging basket.

The Dutch newspaper.

These petunias are sold by my supplier of annuals. 

Orange petunia found at the gym.

Next year we have to use the orange begonias again. They are also pretty!


  1. Dear Hetty,
    what an interesting story! Haven´t heard about this issue before. I am personally not a big fan of orange blooms. Ironically, so many of the dahlia and gladioli tubers I planted this year turned out to bloom orange (although they were supposed to bloom in pinks and purples). However, I guess for all gardeners who like orange blooms, it is sad that they might not have orange petunias next year.
    Best wishes,


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