Petunia flowers are admired throughout the world for their uplifting colors and form, and gardeners across the world grow them for their beauty in many forms, whether that’s filling in the gaps in a border, gracing window boxes, or filling hanging baskets to the brim.
Most petunias are treated as annuals to fill a border or a container for a season, but there are some which are perennials, as long as they receive protection from fall or winter temperatures.
Petunias can also be grown inside as well as out, but they tend to do much better when they are planted outside.
They also make great decorations for celebrations such as weddings and birthdays, though they’re not the flower people tend to go for.
There’s also a lot of symbolism behind these lovely flowers.
Behind The Name: What Does ‘Petunia’ Mean?
Petunia comes from the French word petun, which is derived from a Tupi-Guarani word, which essentially translates to “worthless tobacco plant”.
Petunia is the name for an entire genus in the Solanaceae plant family, or the nightshade plant family. You may also know Nicotiana, which is a close relative, and it’s also known as a tobacco plant.
While Spanish explorers in the early part of the sixteenth century came across this plant, it wasn’t considered worth transporting it back to Spain.
It was only roughly three centuries later that Napoleon’s brother sent explorers, and samples went to Spain, where it was officially categorized.
What do Petunia Flowers Mean?
Petunias have multiple layers of meaning, which largely depend on the context in which they are given.
This can lead to a lot of confusion or vague messages, which is why they’re usually paired with other flowers that have similar meanings.
Even more confusingly is the common symbolism behind the petunia, because it contradicts itself.
For example, you might send someone petunias to say to someone that you’re still angry, that you haven’t forgotten what they said or how they acted, and they better do something about it.
It’s essentially hate mail. You’re conveying that you absolutely cannot stand the recipient, and while this is a powerful message, you might not want to fan that flame.
Or, you can send someone petunias to say that you find their presence soothing, and just being in their general proximity makes you feel calm, grounded, and happy.
Those are two extremes you really don’t want to get confused. So how do you tell? Well, the color helps determine the meaning.
Like with most flowers, sending them as an arrangement will help, and a card will make sure the recipient doesn’t get the wrong message, whichever one you choose.
Purple Petunia Symbolism
Purple petunias signify that you are intrigued by someone, and you want to know more. You find them charming, there’s something about them which seems a little magical, but you can’t quite tell what it is.
Pink Petunia Meaning
Pink petunias represent a gentle nature, kindness, empathy, and affection.
Red Petunia Significance
Red petunias symbolize all-consuming desire, or a love that your life revolves around.
Yellow Petunia Meaning
Yellow petunias suggest you hold a great deal of affection for someone, but it is not romantic. Yellow petunias also represent a great deal of trust or respect.
Blue Petunia Significance
Blue petunias represent a deep bond that you share with someone, and how calm you feel in their company.
White Petunia Symbolism
White petunias signify grace, dignity, honesty, and purity. They can also represent sympathy or remembrance.
The Cultural Significance Behind the Petunia
There is some interesting folklore surrounding the petunia, too. Both Maya and Inca people believed that the fragrance of the petunia bloom was extremely important, where it would repel ghosts and monsters.
In modern superstition, it’s said that petunias will not grow anywhere where there are ‘negative’ forces or energies.
During the Victorian period, petunias were often part of weddings, where they would convey the perfect suitability of the two getting married.
What does a Petunia Flower Tattoo Mean?
Petunias as part of a tattoo are very striking, and the symbolism behind them are just as potent as the meaning attached to the flower.
Petunias can signify the importance of being stubborn, of defending what and who you love, these gorgeous flowers can suggest that you shouldn’t forget what people are capable of.
But petunias can also symbolize the importance of a positive influence in your life, someone or something which keeps your feelings of security and capability in check.
This memory, influence, or person means a lot to you, and it also halts any negativity in its tracks before it can start.
When Should You Give Someone Petunias?
Petunias are a good idea for nearly any occasion, provided that you are careful with how you send the message. As mentioned above, you may give the wrong impression entirely if you’re not careful!
Whatever occasion you’re planning to celebrate, make sure you include a card with a gift of petunias, otherwise this may end badly.
For extra security, you can send flowers with a similar message in one gift, so there’s no room for miscommunication. If you’re planning on expressing your thanks, send yellow petunias along with a mixture of other yellow flowers, which carry the same meaning.
If you want to confess your deepest feelings for someone, send petunias and chrysanthemums, or roses in the richest shades of crimson you can find.