Is PMP worth all the hype?



My PMPs, still a bit traumatized by shipping.  

What do you all think, now that they’re on the nursery shelves? I just received some of these from Proven Winners (as many garden writers have) and I’ve spoken to other gardeners who have recently planted them. No naysayers yet. The grower industry seems excited:

“Just when you thought you had seen every form of petunia available, something new comes along: ‘Pretty Much Picasso,’” says Greenhouse Grower. They then note that the plant is the product of traditional breeding, not genetic modification.  These plants were among the showstoppers of the 2009 pack trials.

Images of this petunia have been all over the interwebs for months now, and I have to say it does look cool. It combines in one flower a favorite mixed container planting—purple petunias with chartreuse sweet potato vine. I’m trying it alone this year, just to see how it looks by itself—it is purported to be quite vigorous. We’ll see. (For me, a lot of petunias run right out of steam midsummer, when I need them most.)

I’ve always liked petunias, regardless of their ubiquity. Their frilliness is pretty, and once upon a time, many petunias had a lovely fragrance. This, however, has been bred out of almost all of the new varieties. You can still find some old-fashioned scented petunias—they are often white and larger than usual. They are not as floriferous, and not quite as “self-cleaning” but a pot of them can scent an entire garden, especially at night.


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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. When I saw the hype about them last year I was thrilled and considered it a “must have” plant. Then I started seeing it at nurseries this spring, often combined in the most unfortunate hanging baskets (with peach? really?) and decided maybe I didn’t need it after all. Then it arrived, as yours did, in the PW writer’s box, and I immediately plunked them into one of my containers along with Emerald Lace sweet potato vine (which is not supposed to eat your container by the end of summer like some other sweet potato vines can). So we’ll see if it grows on me.

  2. To me the novelty is lost unless they are grown in hanging baskets or window boxes. Without close inspection you can’t see the green edge to the flowers, they look like normal petunias. Maybe they’ll come up with one that has this same flower color but yellow leaves or some other way to contrast them.

  3. Talking to a sales rep at the Green Expo where they were showing it off, I commented that the colors didn’t look like the one in the catalog. He replied that the colors fluctuates. This wasn’t very nice of me to say this but I did ask if they photoshopped the petunia to make it look better. He was startled and replied no, of course not. The jury is still out there. I’m going to observe these and see how they do.

  4. Sheila, I saw some over last summer in a university annual trial garden, and the color did seem to be pretty variable depending on amount of light and temperature. Personally, I think they are also ALWAYS hideous.

  5. We finally got these in at the greenhouse I work at. My coworkers are more interested in these than the customers are in most cases.

    I have seen them in alot of baskets but as previous commenters have mentioned its pretty hard to tell the difference between the green of the petunia and the green of any neighboring foliage.

    To me petunias are icky weedy messes that need constant deadheading and look gross by July anyway. So I guess I am underwhelmed by Pretty Much Picasso.

  6. Petunias have changed drastically over the years. I grow just about every new variety, as I am not into daily deadheading either. The supertunias and superbells need very little deadheading.

    Pretty much Picasso is growing in three locations at my home, and to be honest, I am pretty much not impressed! The flowers themselves split when they try to open (which they really never do). They are an up close and personal plant, don’t plan on seeing them from the street.

    The colors are great, but something is missing in regard to the way the flower opens.

  7. Not being as connected as some of you, these were a surprise when I saw them at a nursery. I bought 2 six packs immediately but have as yet planted them They are doing well and are opening just fine with quite variable flowers by location and individual plant. I have done no deadheading for 2 weeks and they seem just fine with that. I perchased more yesterday and will be featuring then in the containers this year. I like them now, will see what the real summer heat does to them

  8. I was lucky enough to go to the source — the PW pack trial demonstration garden near San Diego — and bought my PMP there last month. At the PW garden all the plants are “fertigated” 6 days a week and everything looks amazing. My plant, of course, does not get fertilizer as often — just some diluted fish emulsion once a week or so. After 3 weeks in my garden, the blooms are smaller and the plant isn’t as lush. I’m hoping it just needs time to settle in, but…

  9. Petunias,really? That is one plant I could never warm up to.Messy,sticky.needy,garish colors.But to each his own,enjoy yours.

  10. And do we think that Mr. Picasso would want his name associated with this plant? Its as bad as “Monet Moment” lobelia. Gets between my teeth.

  11. May I insert my whine about Proven Winners? They’ve done very well to drive six-packs out of garden centers for easy annuals, and in the process boosted prices. Yes, they have popularized some plants that were previously hard to find, and bring out new stuff, but on balance, they make filling in empty garden spots more expensive. I try not to buy them, and try to shop at nurseries that still start their own six-packs. Thanks. My $.02.

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