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Petunia Flower – Meaning and Symbolism

Petunias are popular houseplants that are often seen cascading from hanging pots and window planter boxes. While these beautiful funnel-shaped, brightly colored flowers are perfect gifts as potted plants, it’s a good idea to know what they symbolize before giving them to anyone to prevent any miscommunication.

What is Petunia?

Petunias are a genus of the Solanaceae family and are native to South America. These plants have large, trumpet shaped flowers that come in a variety of colors.

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The petunia is closely related to tobacco and tomato plants. Most varieties have sticky leaves because of the sap that it excretes as a form of defence against insects and bugs.

What Does Petunia Mean?

In Roman and Greek cultures, people worshipped flowers and took their symbolism very seriously. They used it to express their emotions and add more meaning to art and literature. 

Petunias weren’t exactly likable in the past though. In the early 16h century, Spanish explorers discovered this fast-growing plant and named it “Petun.” This roughly meant “worthless tobacco plant” – they didn’t even consider sending samples of it back to Spain because they thought it wasn’t worth the effort.

In the 1500s, the British people also believed that petunias symbolize Satanism, and were believed to represent anger and resentment.

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However, over time, this negative outlook changed and today, petunias are a popular indoor and outdoor plant. The name Petunia is also a popular girls’ name.

Meaning and Symbolism of Petunias

Petunias symbolize different things so understanding exactly what they mean can get quite confusing. When given as a gift, its meaning depends on the following:

  • The relationship between the giver and the recipient
  • The occasion 
  • The color of the flowers

They say that petunias can represent anger and resentment. If you’ve had a disagreement with someone and would like to make amends, giving them petunias might not be a good idea. 

If you have a good relationship with the recipient, it can be interpreted as a strong desire to spend more time with them. In the past, they were used as decorations and given as gifts in Victorian weddings because they represented being with good company.

Petunia Colors and Meanings

petunia color symbolism

Like most flowers, the color of petunias plays a huge role in what they symbolize. Before gifting someone a potted petunia, knowing what each color means is an excellent way to effectively get your message across. 

Pink Petunia

Pink petunias represent femininity and gentleness. They are also usually related to themes like motherly love and compassion. This is a perfect gift to almost any woman in your life as they perfectly represent women and their wonderful energy.

Red Petunia

Red petunias symbolize strong, passionate love. It is a perfect gift between lovers as they represent the strength and depth of relationships. This is a perfect alternative for those who have gotten tired of giving and receiving the usual bouquet of red roses on special occasions. 

Black Petunia

Florists assign different meanings to black petunias. Some think of it as a symbol of death, bad karma, or negative feelings of gloom, while others consider it a symbol of uniqueness and strength. This rare and mysterious variety may even signify something as deep as an insurrection because of its rather rebellious look.

White Petunia

While black petunias mostly symbolize negative and rebellious emotions, white ones express purity, spirituality, and innocence. They may also symbolize trust and dignity, so their meaning will largely depend on your relationship with the recipient. Since they denote purity and innocence, they are commonly used as decorations and gifts in weddings and other religious ceremonies.

Yellow Petunia

This flower symbolizes friendship and respect, making them a perfect gift to your close friends. If you’d like to tell your friends how much you adore and respect them, yellow petunias are definitely an excellent pick.

Purple Petunia

The color purple represents grace, enchantment, and fantasy. They are perfect gifts for your friends, colleagues, or anyone you’re not romantically interested in as they also denote feelings of respect and admiration.

Blue Petunia

The color blue often symbolizes serenity, reliability, and stability, It represents something similar when given as flowers – trust and peaceful energy. Blue petunias are great gifts for people you trust and admire – be it your relatives, co-workers, or friends.

When to Give Petunias

While petunias are commonly used in bouquets, they are excellent gifts for housewarming parties, springtime celebrations, and even graduations. If you’re looking to give new neighbors or co-workers a welcome gift, a pot of yellow petunias that symbolize friendship and respect will also get your message across.

Remember that petunias are excellent gifts for any occasion as long as you give them in the right context. Feel free to put them in a beautiful vase or clay pot, but make sure to add colors that perfectly represent the message that you’d like to get across. You wouldn’t want someone to misinterpret your gift and think of it as a sign of anger or resentment!

Petunias as Houseplants

Petunias didn’t have the best reputation in the past, but they continue to be very popular houseplants. They’ve slowly become popular for their lively and bright colors, their hardiness, and their lovely fragrance. 

With hundreds of petunia varieties, they’ve been categorized based on their growth habit as well as the size of their flowers. 

While some prefer Grandiflora because they have huge flowers, others fall in love with Multiflora’s small, lush flowers. “Wave” petunias, also known as “spreading” types, are also popular because they grow fast, and they can easily fill large planter boxes. 

All these varieties are quite easy to care for, making them perfect for both beginners and expert gardeners. 

Caring for Petunias

To keep petunias looking bright and lively, you have to water them regularly and keep their soil moist. They may even need daily watering during summer. However, overwatering is a big no-no, because it will make petunias look leggy and scraggly with very few flowers.

Avoid wetting the foliage and flowers of petunias as it can promote disease. Make sure that you water them close to the soil and avoid root rot by adding lots of holes to your container. 

Petunias are heavy feeders so it’s best to add a slow-release fertilizer when you plant them. Spraying liquid fertilizer every week is also important because this will give your petunias enough energy to produce beautiful blooms. When they become scraggly, you may cut them back to encourage the growth of new flowers. 

Make sure that your petunias get plenty of sunlight. To get the best possible blooms, give them at least six hours of full sun a day.

Wrapping Up

Petunia is a beautiful flower with contradictory symbolism. While it means resentment and anger, the flower also represents several positive concepts, including hope. These flowers continue to be a popular ornamental plant, valued for their large flowers that come in many hues.

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.