Petunias are members of the Solanaceae, or nightshade, family, which includes relatives like tomatoes, peppers and Nicotiana. Discovered in South America in the mid-1700s and early 1800s, petunias are the product of the hybridization between two different species of petunia flowers: White-flowered Petunia axillaris and purple-flowered Petunia violacea. They were lanky and rather small-flowered plants when first introduced into European gardens in the early 1800s. Breeders immediately began crossing petunias in search of larger flowers and greater color variety. We enjoy the products of their research in our gardens today.