Wave Petunias vs. Supertunias

Bubblegum petunias flowering abundantly

Wave petunias and Supertunias are popular lines of petunias that are often confused.

Both are popular for their ease of growth, abundant blooms, and impressive growth, but overall there are some distinguishing features of these plants.

There are normally many types of Supertunias and wave petunias to choose from at your local greenhouse, so we put this guide together to discuss the difference between these two categories of petunias.

A quick disclaimer

Before we dive in, it should be noted that there are different varieties of wave petunias and Supertunias that will deviate somewhat from what this article discusses.

For example, while most wave petunias are ground covers and don’t do have much height, there are series of wave petunias (Tidal Wave petunias) that can mound quite a bit.

The same is true for Supertunias — there are many series of Supertunias, some of which will have some small differences in their growth and care needs.

Basically, you should always check your plants’ tags for precise growing information specific to whatever you are planting.

Now, let’s move on to some big differences between wave petunias vs Supertunias.

What’s the difference between wave petunias and Supertunias?

Simply put, wave petunias and Supertunias are both vigorous growers. But Supertunias will outperform wave petunias with their hardiness, resistance to diseases, and plant fullness. Additionally, Supertunias will have many more colors to choose from.

Both can be planted as groundcovers or borders or in pots and hanging baskets.

Wave petunias are aggressive ground covering annuals that can be grown from seed —often making these plants the more affordable option. Due to their spreading nature, wave petunias grow great in flower beds and gardens; they can also grow well in pots or hanging baskets.

Supertunias, on the other hand, can be thought of as an “elite” version of wave petunias. Supertunias were bred to bloom profusely, self-deadhead, and will spread similar to a wave petunia.

Comparing the two

It can be difficult to compare wave petunias and Supertunias because in a lot of ways they are very similar: they both are annuals, easy-care, produce beautiful blooms, and are very popular among growers.

One way to look at the differences is to think of Supertunias as the “Cadillac” of petunias. These plants were bred for size, beauty and the “wow” factor. 

Using the same analogy, wave petunias can be thought of as the “Chevy Cruze” of petunias. Many growers are familiar with them as they are reliable, easy-care, and great for garden beds and container gardening. 

Both a Chevy Cruze and a Cadillac will (normally) get you where you want to go, but the Cadillac is certainly the more premium version of the two. The same is true for Supertunias vs. wave petunias — when cared for properly, both plants are showy and will add a lot of beauty to your home, but the Supertunia will likely outperform the wave petunia in the long run.

Wave petunias in a hanging basket

A timeline of petunias

Before we get into the big differences between wave petunias and Supertunias, here’s a bit of history.

Some people believe these flowers can be sourced back to a South American descent. Regardless, petunias have been around for hundreds of years, and have often been a favorite of growers.

Some common reasons growers choose to plant petunias are:

  • The plants’ scent attracts butterflies and bees.
  • Their ease of care.
  • The vast array of beautiful flowers.

In the mid-1990’s the wave petunia was introduced as a vigorous, spreading annual that produced larger blooms than traditional petunias.

For years, the wave petunia became a popular choice for container gardening and landscape growing alike.

Then, in 2006 the Supertunia was introduced by Proven Winners, a popular breeder of premier plant varieties.

Like many patented brands of flowers, Supertunias can not be grown from seed by greenhouses. While this makes Supertunias a more expensive option, it also controls the quality and healthiness of the plant. 

5 differences between wave petunias and supertunias

Here are some other differences between Supertunias and wave petunias.

1. Colors available

Both wave petunias and Supertunias can be found in many different colors. Between the two types of plants, Supertunias have more bold or unique flower color patterns. 

Most wave petunia varieties are common colors (red, white, blue, salmon, etc.), while Supertunias may come in a color like “raspberry blush” that has splashes of purple and red. 

Overall, both wave petunias and Supertunias offer great color options. Oftentimes, if you aren’t able to find a color in one type of petunia it can be found in another series.

Multiple varieties of Supertunia plants

2. Blooming

Both Supertunias and wave petunias will grow all summer long for you, if given the proper fertilizer and watering.

Supertunias will bloom slightly more aggressively, oftentimes blooming so much that the plant’s green foliage is hardly seen. Wave petunias can grow to produce many blooms as well, though not as overwhelmingly.

3. Size of flowers

Depending on the wave petunia variety, the blooms will be very close to the same size as Supertunias, if not the same.

Shock Wave petunias will have smaller blooms, but Tidal Wave and Easy Wave petunias have larger blooms that are more comparable to Supertunias’ flowers.

4. Growing habits

Wave petunias are known to be vigorous spreaders. They are often used as a groundcover for this reason. Sometimes, if not trimmed back periodically, their long vines may get straggly.

Some Supertunias, such as the Supertunia Vista series, will spread close to the length of a wave petunia, stretching as far as 3-4 feet in some cases! Supertunias will also mound considerably, growing to as high as 2 feet tall. 

5. Fertilizer requirements

Both Supertunias and wave petunias will benefit greatly from being fertilized throughout the summer. Given Supertunias’ quality, they may be a little more forgiving of forgotten fertilization.

Wave petunia varieties vs Supertunia varieties

White Supertunias

As a subcategory of these main petunia varieties, each has different types that grow differently. 

Here is a breakdown of the popular types of both wave petunias and Supertunias:

Popular wave petunia varieties

  • Tidal wave petunias
  • Shock wave petunias
  • Easy wave petunias

Popular Supertunia popular varieties

  • Supertunia Vista
  • Supertunia Mini Vista
  • Supertunia Trailing
  • Supertunia Double

Benefits of wave petunias

Purple wave petunias in a hanging basket

Some of the main benefits of wave petunias are:

  • Value
  • Spreading
  • Ease of care

If you are looking for an affordable way to fill your gardens, beds, and containers, wave petunias are your best bet. For a plant that spreads 3 to 4 feet and blooms abundantly, wave petunias are a great option. 

Homestead Gardens, located in Lancaster County, PA, grows a variety of colors of wave petunias for just $1 a pot.

Benefits of Supertunias

Supertunias are more of an investment, but many growers prefer these flowers for their striking display.

It’s hard to go wrong with growing Supertunias — they’ll fill up whatever you grow them in with hundreds of beautiful blooms.

You’ll just want to make sure that you aren’t planting Supertunias too close together in landscape or a pot, as too little space may hinder their health. They will also need at least 6 hours of sunlight.

Supertunias can also be grown in hanging baskets for a beautiful hanging arrangement.

Homestead Gardens offers Supertunias for $2.59/pot.

Purple Supertunias

Which is best for you?

Between wave petunias and Supertunias there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. Each type of plant grows great in part to full sun, is relatively easy-care, and blooms a variety of colors.

Whatever you choose, you can rest assured that it will add much beauty to your home if given the proper care.