Petunias are flowering plants that are often used to decorate gardens, terraces, windows, loggias and balconies. Florists like them because of the large number of varieties, colors and hybrids, which allows each person to make a unique flower arrangement. For the successful cultivation of seedlings, it is important to properly prepare the soil for petunias.
The flower is not particularly whimsical, however, if you want the flowering to be lush, then you need to follow some basic rules. Not only must the soil for petunias be properly prepared, the success of growing also depends on the quality of the purchased seeds. Ultimately, after preparation, the soil should be loose, moisture-absorbing, light and nutritious. You can buy prepared soil for petunias or make it useful for seedlings yourself. What type of soil is best suited for petunias and how to make it suitable for seedlings will be discussed in this article.
Features of the composition of the soil
The type of soil suitable for petunia seedlings is determined by the Ferret triangle. Sand refers to coarse soil particles. Thanks to him, the soil breathes. However, sand does not retain moisture well, while clay and silty particles are the opposite. According to the Ferret triangle, petunias grow well and develop in sandy-loamy, loamy and clay-sandy soil.
The organic composition of the soil for petunia
The degree of soil fertility is determined by its mineral and organic composition. In chernozem, there are about 10% of organic matter, while in infertile soil this figure does not even reach 3%.
What is organic? This is the presence of substances useful for plant growth. This number also includes microorganisms that break down mineral components into a form in which the plant is able to assimilate them.
Although it may seem to you that the earth is a substance, inside of which nothing happens, in fact, two processes are continuously carried out in it: the accumulation of organic matter and the mineralization of the soil. This will explain the need for fluffing the soil and the need to apply fertilizers to it.
Advice! If you decide to buy ready-made land, it is better to purchase several options from different manufacturers and mix it.
The fact is that the composition and quality of the soil varies greatly and one type of soil may not be suitable for petunias. Mixing different soils will ultimately result in strong and lush blooming petunias.
What should be the acidity of the earth
Acidity (pH) is the content of hydrogen ions in an aqueous solution of soil. The soil can have:
- An acidic environment with a pH less than 6.5. In such an environment, aluminum, manganese, boron and iron are perfectly absorbed, while magnesium, calcium and phosphorus are practically not absorbed.
- A neutral medium with a pH level of about 7. In such a soil, useful substances such as macro- and microelements are uniformly assimilated.
- Alkaline medium with a pH of more than 7.5. In such a land, useful elements are practically not assimilated.
As for petunias, neutral soil with a pH of 5.5–7.0 and slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5–6.5 are suitable for its cultivation. You don't need to go to a lab to measure acidity or pH levels. Buy a pH litmus test from a specialist store. To carry out the test, you will need to cover half a glass with earth, and fill it with water to the top. Then you should stir the composition and leave it for 20 minutes. After, the contents of the glass must be mixed again and the earth must be allowed to settle. Finally, dip the litmus paper into the water. Depending on the color on the piece of paper, the type of soil is determined. If the result is red-purple, then you can plant petunias in the ground from your garden. But if the color is red or blue, then the soil is not suitable for sowing these flowers.
Another option for testing is not costly, since to test acidity you need vinegar and baking soda, foods that are always in your kitchen cupboard. So, the check is done as follows:
- Table vinegar is dripping onto the soil. If it hisses, it means that the soil is alkaline and definitely not suitable for petunias.
- Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda on damp ground. If it sizzles, then the environment is acidic. This soil is not suitable for petunia seedlings.
- If the ground sizzles slightly for vinegar, but more pronounced for soda, then this is a sign that it has a neutral environment. This soil is ideal for petunias.
How to change the acidity of the earth
Suppose that you have a soil that is not suitable for petunias on your site. In this case, you can change the acidity or pH level:
- Lime should be added to the acidic environment, and in the process of digging, add more organic matter, humic fertilizers and nitrates. And you can also add black soil, sod or sandy loam soils.
- Peat will help change the pH level in alkaline earth. Ammonia fertilizers are best. In this case, you can not use calcium and potassium nitrates.
- If the soil is moderately alkaline, but crumbly, then sphagnum and compost are added to it.
- In clayey alkaline earth, you can add 1 pH per 1 m2 about 2.5 tablespoons of crushed sulfur. Another option is 1 teaspoon of ferrous sulfate. Please note that these components are decomposed for a long time, therefore, fertilizers need to be applied a year in advance or from autumn. You can also enrich the soil with peat and sand.
Sowing in peat tablets
Nowadays, growing petunias has become even easier. Since the agronomists came up with special peat tablets for sowing small seeds, which is typical for petunias. First, place the peat tablets on the pallet with the recess facing up. Fill the drip tray with warm water. This is necessary for the peat tablets to swell. After they are straightened, place the petunia seeds in their grooves.
After sowing, cover the peat tablets with glass or a plastic bag. Thus, an ideal microclimate will be created for the development of seedlings. This is the easiest way to prepare soil for petunia seedlings.
Before sowing, the soil should be disinfected. This stage is mandatory. The simplest method of disinfection, 3-10 days before sowing petunias, water the soil with a saturated pink solution of potassium permanganate. This necessary requirement will protect young seedlings from diseases that may lurk in the ground.
Another disinfection option is to heat the ground in an oven or microwave. The main thing is to do it at a high temperature. The calcination process may look like this:
- Moisten the soil, place it in the roasting sleeve, cover and make 2-3 punctures in the sleeve with a fork. Heat the ground in an oven preheated to 150 ℃ for 45-60 minutes.
- The clay for petunias can be placed in a saucepan and covered with water. Make a water bath and warm up for 1.5 hours. The boiling water must be topped up.
- Microwave disinfection is most effective, as it completely destroys pathogenic bacteria and fungus. To do this, place the soil in a plastic container, fill it with water so that a mushy mass is obtained. Place in microwave for 6 minutes.
Important! Stir in sand and vermiculite into the hot earth. Add the rest of the additives after the soil has cooled to room temperature.
How to prepare the ground yourself
If you are one of the growers who do not trust the purchased land, then you can prepare a mixture that is useful for petunia yourself. It can be made from peat, turf or garden soil, sand. There are two basic rules for preparing a fertile mixture:
- If you will be growing petunias on the balcony, then you should mix 70% ginger peat with 30% clay.
- If the flowers are to be grown in containers, then it is necessary to mix one part of moss peat and sand with two parts of loamy soil.
If you are breeding petunias for sale, then make clay with moss peat in a 1: 1 ratio. Loam can be replaced with perlite or spruce bark. The quality of the soil components must be high. Peat is sterile, so it should always form the basis of the soil. Peat is divided into two types - black lowland and red riding. Black peat has a low acidity and is, in fact, better suited for seedlings. Although its red analogue is friable and moisture resistant, therefore it is also suitable for petunias.
Advice! To lower the acidity of peat, add 1 teaspoon of limestone or dolomite flour to 1 liter of soil.
The porosity of the soil is achieved by sand. Ordinary red sand contains a lot of iron oxide, which is bad for the root system of petunias. Therefore, it cannot be used to prepare suitable soil. You will need river gray or white sand.
If you mix sand and peat in equal proportions, then it can be used for sowing seeds. But to improve the nutritional value of the soil, decomposed compost or humus should be added to this mixture.
Top dressing with special additives
The next stage in preparing the land for seedlings is feeding petunias. To improve the development of petunia seedlings, you can add to the soil:
- Perlite. It is a volcanic rock that helps loosen the earth.
- Epin. It is an acid found in plant cells that stimulates growth. According to some, epin is a hormone, when in fact it is not.
- Microelements. It could be uniflor.
- Powder. It is sludge passed through a centrifuge. Rarely found on the free market. Improves plant germination.
- Hydrogel. It is an inert polymer with excellent moisture retention properties. As well as powder, it improves the germination of petunias.
Important! Before sowing petunia seeds in the prepared soil, check that there are no roots and other foreign elements in it.
So, you already have a nutritious soil. Now is the time to sow the petunia. And this must be done correctly. Petunias are sown on the soil surface without sprinkling seeds. Use a toothpick to gently sow small seeds. Pick up a small seed with a sharp tip and place it in the seedling container. Use the second toothpick to mark the sowing site, as the seeds are almost invisible on the ground. This way you will be able to sow evenly.
Sowing petunia in soil with a hydrogel gives excellent results. It can be soaked not in water, but in a fertilizer solution, for example, "Kemira" or some other. In such a simple way, you can provide petunia seedlings with moisture and additional nutrition.
To avoid having to cover the seedlings with foil, you can plant them in food containers with a lid. Thus, you get mini-greenhouses. Such containers are easy to ventilate, and the lid allows enough light to pass through, which will allow growing seedlings in them until picking.
After the seeds are laid out in the soil, it must be sprinkled with water from a spray bottle. Then the seedlings are covered with a lid or covered with foil / glass. To prevent condensation from accumulating, do not forget to ventilate the seedlings from time to time.
Expect the first shoots within two weeks. But if it so happened that the seedlings did not appear, then do not wait any longer. Even if they ascend later, they will be weakened and there will be a lot of trouble with them. As a rule, such worries do not justify themselves.
Now you are familiar with the main features of soil preparation for petunia seedlings. All that remains is to apply what you have learned in practice. We also suggest you watch a video that will allow you to further expand your knowledge: