We’re beginning to see signs of autumn.
So while many of summer’s bedding plants – begonias, impatiens, vinca and more – still look pretty good, it’s time to give your landscape a new look.
Pansies will do that for autumn, and keep the show going through the winter and spring. That is a lot of bloom for your buck, and the range of choice is huge, ranging from whites and softest pastels to vivid reds, blues purples and even black. The flowers can be quite small, as in the pretty violas, or large splashes of color, often with attractive markings.
This fall, a new series of pansies called Cool Wave enters the nationwide marketplace, in both independent garden centers and big-box retailers.
The name stems from its growth habit which is somewhat flat and spreading. This habit makes it well suited for a hanging basket, where it should spread about 30 inches, spilling over the sides of a container and even planted in a mass as a ground cover, with each plant spreading up to 2 feet, according to the breeder, Pan American Seed Co.
While gardeners in the Piedmont have long expected fall pansies to last through the winter, the Cool Waves showed remarkable tolerance to winters much farther north. In the South, they tend to bloom though normal winter weather, pausing for a time should the temperature drop below freezing for a long stretch.
Cool Waves and most other pansies sold for fall planting in the Piedmont benefit from winter sun and regular fertilizer to keep the plants growing and blooming. A shady spot is less likely to produce the maximum amount of bloom through the winter.
Pansies make ideal choices for containers, and there is a double reward if you plant spring flowering bulbs such as tulips or daffodils into the pots before topping them with pansies.
It may seem like a long wait for the bulbs to bloom if the top of the pot is a layer of pine needles or bare soil. But adding the pansies after you plant the bulbs can make a lovely centerpiece for your steps, deck or patio. The slender stems of the tulips or daffodils will rise easily among the pansy plants.
Making this combination will also give you the chance to combine favorite colors, such as red tulips and white pansies, or yellow daffodils and orange pansies. Another great combination is to cover stretches of bulbs in you flower bed with a ground cover of pansies.