My Black Velvet Isn’t So Black Anymore

Note bold yellow stripes where there shouldn't be any.

A while back, I wrote about the new black petunias and how popular I thought they’d be this season. I was right. They popped up everywhere, and my favorite nursery had plenty. Of course, I had to buy some, and they were very black and very “velvety” –until now.

All of a sudden, they are showing some yellow stripes. This is definitely not what I had in mind when I bought them. I did a little research, and lo and behold, I am not alone. It seems that under certain conditions such as “stress” (like what – sun and fresh air and water, maybe?) these plants revert to black with yellow stripes – the cultivars “Phantom” or “Pinstripe” or whatever.

I know that these reversions are common in highly hybridized and new introductions. I just didn’t think it would be that fast.


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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9 Responses to My Black Velvet Isn’t So Black Anymore

  1. cj wright says:

    I bought some of these last year and was disappointed in them. They are gorgeous, so I gave into my temptation last year, but I haven’t even seen them in the nursuries around here this year.


    • cj wright says:

      P.S. They didn’t live very long, and petunias are rather hardy round these parts.


    • dirtynailz says:

      Oh that is reassuring. I thought maybe it was me….
      I should know better – everyone knows the classics or heirlooms are always the sturdiest and most dependable, but I usually experiment with one annual every summer, because I just can’t resist.


  2. Donna B. says:

    I bought one of these! And you know why? I couldn’t find the Pinwheel version so I picked up the black petunia w/ the yellow stripe! Hahahaha! [Although, for every ten blooms I seem to only have one of the flowers have a stripe through it, and it appears to be a particular stem… curiouser and curiouser…]

    But it’s funny that you mention the color reverting due to stress – maybe the black petunia’s need more of a… part shade? or moist wet? I give up!


    • dirtynailz says:

      Isn’t that weird about the stress? It’s blazing hot in RI today and I checked the plant, and despite being quite dry, it seemed blacker and less stripey than it was last week. Either way, I am not into “drama queen” plants and will not buy this one next year.


  3. That really is disappointing. I had seen them at the garden centers when I was picking out annuals and was so tempted to pick some up. In the end, I decided on the purple petunias instead. Now, I’m glad I left them behind. But does it mention anywhere what type of stress will cause this? Or is it just about anything?


    • dirtynailz says:

      I couldn’t find a specific cause. Mine have had plenty of sun, water and light fertilizer every couple of weeks. I can’t see any pests or diseases on the plants. I think they’re just plain fussy.


  4. Jamie says:

    Found this site while trying to figure out what caused my petunias to change. I live in CO and bought 14 Black Velvet plants. I have one in each of 12 deck rail planters and one in each of 2 large pots sitting between my garage doors. All of the plants in the the deck railing planters have yellow stripes, it started slowly after about a month, the one in the pots by the garage have stayed the solid color. They all get full sun, same fertilizer, were planted in the same dirt so I’m really confused. They are still pretty but I color coordinate everything so it kind of throws off the look I was going for.


    • dirtynailz says:

      That’s exactly what happened to mine. The thing is, I bought solid black because I wanted solid black. Now, I’m getting stripes If I’d wanted stripes, I would have bought those. I’ll know better next time…


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