Written by Matthew Patterson, Visitor Services Associate
The Petunia derives its name from the word “petun”, from the Tupi–Guarani language of South America, meaning “tobacco”. In fact, it is a close relative of the tobacco plant as well as cape gooseberries, tomatoes, deadly nightshades, potatoes and even chili peppers. It was discovered in South America by the explorer James Tweedie, after whom the genus Tweedia is named, who sent specimens to the Glasgow Botanical Garden in 1831. Due to their diversity of color and appearance and their hearty nature Petunias have become a popular bedding flower. They can tolerate relatively harsh conditions and hot climates but grow well in low humidity and moist soil, receiving 5 to 6 hours of sunlight a day.