During the summer, we think of flowers like petunias as those fragrant, spilling or tumbling flowers cascading over the rims of baskets and mixed containers. That same show of incredible color coupled with tantalizing fragrance can be achieved during the cool season with pansies like those of the Cool Wave series.
They first came out under the name of “Plentifall,” but changed to “Cool Wave.” After watching them bloom over the past couple of years, I love the “Waves” of summer and I love the “Waves” of winter. There are around a dozen colors and three mixes in the Cool Wave series, and I know if you will try them in our pansy season like you would a trailing petunia, you will be hooked.
I am very partial to using them in containers and baskets, where you get to enjoy that trailing habit. We just haven’t had trailing pansies and violas long enough for them to become old hat. To me, they are still new and unique. This also means I haven’t come close to exploring all of the cool-season combinations.
With pansies, soil preparation is crucial. In the case of containers and baskets, the potting soil or soil mix is critical. The water must drain freely. You must have holes in your containers, and your soil mix must be light and fluffy, allowing for fastest root expansion.
Cool Wave pansies provide a look in containers that you may not have been unaccustomed to for the cool season, so let your imagination run wild in choosing partners. Consider foliage plants like kale, cabbage, cardoon, Swiss chard and, my favorite, ‘Lemon Ball’ or ‘Angelina’ sedum. For taller, spiky flowers, think about ‘Sonnet’ snapdragons, Citrona series erysimum, or Dash or Amazon series dianthus.
These pansies may be called “spreading,” “trailing” and even “cascading,” but whatever the name, you will want some for baskets, mixed containers and window boxes, where they will open the door to a new dimension in cool-season gardening. When I say “dimension,” I am talking about the vertical element. You probably never thought about pansies cascading over a wall, but it is now possible.
(Norman Winter is the director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, Georgia.)