When you absolutely can't think of anything else to say, the only word left is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, at least according to Mary Poppins.
Evidently the growers of SuperCal Petchoa feel the same way since they named their trademarked series of blooming plants after that popular song. Any maybe they are right, because SuperCal Petchoa are destined to become the next new trend in hanging basket plants.
Petchoa are a hybrid cross of Petunias with Calibrachoa, commonly known as Million Bells. Combining the best of both plants, growers say SuperCal Petchoa has inherited the strong root system, vigorous growth and large flowers of petunias with the foliage and flowers that can withstand severe weather conditions of Calibrachoa.
Unlike petunias, SuperCal is non-sticky, a selling point with me because I hate the residue that comes off on my hands while I'm deadheading petunias. Like Million Bells, some growers claim SuperCal is self-cleaning, which means no deadheading, but others claim deadheading only improves the plant's growth. We'll talk about that later.
Last year there were seven colors available, blue, neon rose, purple, terracotta, velvet, cherry and vanilla blush. Lately I've seen mention of another called pink ice, so I wouldn't be surprised if new varieties will be introduced this season. They are more tolerant of cooler temperatures and can even withstand a light frost or two. When most other annual flowers are down for the count at the end of summer, growers claim SuperCal Petchoa can thrive longer than most annuals at both ends of the season.
As far as deadheading, there are conflicting reports. It makes sense to me that deadheading, or plucking off flowers as they fade and die, doesn't mean the plant will grow bigger and bushier. Deadheading basically keeps the plant, and the surrounding area, clean and tidy. But for an annual plant that lives only to reproduce, taking off spent flowers can encourage the plant to send out more flowers. Making seeds, after all, is the ultimate goal.
Pruning is something else entirely. When you prune a plant, you take away more than just a dead blossom. You take part of the branch or stem or whatever is growing to encourage the plant to make more stems or branches. Pruning helps keep a normally wayward plant from growing wild like morning bedhead. It can also shape an overgrown plant into a more compact form.
While deadheading can encourage a plant to produce more blooms, you won't get more stems or branches by simply deadheading.
Petchoa will get bushier and fill out better if it is pruned, but like Calibrachoa, faded flowers will easily detach and blow away with the wind or drop from the plant on their own without the aid of human intervention.
But if your petchoa doesn't want to give up its spent blossoms, a little intervention may not be a bad thing. Flowers left on the plant could set seed and if that happens, the plant, having done its job, won't put out vigorous blooms much longer.
Now don't get excited when you hear the S-word. Since it is a hybrid cross of two parent plants, seeds from Petchoa will either not be viable or will grow into something altogether different. Not only that, but the word "Trademark" should ring a few bells with amateur growers. When a plant is trademarked, it is illegal to propagate them unless you are licensed grower. It's no different than if you made a copy of your favorite CD and passed it around to your friends. That's illegal too.
To keep your SuperCal Petchoa growing nicely all season, be sure it is planted in well composted soil. It will grow in both full sun and partial shade, although if it doesn't get enough sun, you won't get an abundance of flowers.
As with any plant that loves sunshine, it will need watered regularly. It might not be a bad idea to invest in some slow release water crystals to ensure steady moisture if you have to be away and can't water as often. Feed your Petchoa with a slow release fertilizer or use a water-soluble solution of balanced fertilizer once a week. Trim Petchoa as needed to keep it tidy and promote renewed growth.