Imagine a petite petunia with intensely-colored, trumpet-shaped blossoms in shades such as magenta, violet, or copper. Flowers smother the slightly fuzzy, gray-green leaves from late spring until the first hard frost. Prolific flowering means that new flowers quickly replace those damaged by hail, a major asset in our area. Mature plants reach about eighteen inches in width and are less than a foot high. A relative newcomer on the garden scene, Calibrachoa has already gained a place of honor among annual flowers.
Start plants from purchased seedlings; plants produce little seed, and most hybrids are patented, prohibiting vegetative propagation. Set them out in late May in full sun and good garden soil amended with compost. Although plants are somewhat drought tolerant, watering two times a week will increase flowering. Feed with an all-purpose fertilizer in early summer and again if bloom starts to diminish. Mulch is always a good idea. Spent flowers fall off, eliminating the need for deadheading. Pinching back leggy stems encourages branching.
Calibrachoa is well suited for bedding, providing a carpet-like effect. The slightly floppy branches also make it superb for containers, both hanging baskets and tall pots. As the plants are actually tender perennials, you can bring them inside when weather turns cold. They will continue to bloom all winter if given a bright spot by the window.
Article and photos by Leslie Holzmann, Certified Colorado Gardener.