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Cool Wave pansies offer winter beauty

By Gary R. Bachman
MSU Horticulturist
Coastal Research & Extension Center

image of cool wave tgrailing pansies
Cool Wave trailing pansies such as these Violet Wing and Lemon pansies have a unique spreading and trailing growth habit that makes them must-haves in gardens. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)

Several weeks ago, I wrote about how much I enjoy pansies for the cool-season garden. These are really easy plants to grow, and they provide great color during colder winter temperatures.

But the story on pansies doesn’t end there. Plant breeders are always looking for ways to make our garden and landscape plants better. I have been really impressed with the group of trailing pansies that hit the market in the past few years.

One of my favorites is the Cool Wave series of trailing pansies. If the Wave in the name sounds familiar, it is. Cool Wave pansies were developed by the same folks who brought the popular Wave petunias to many of our gardens.

These plants have a unique spreading and trailing growth habit that makes them must-haves in your garden. Cool Wave trailing pansies are much more vigorous than the standard pansy varieties. The plants are well branched and will fill a landscape bed or hanging basket with good color all the way to next spring.

Flower colors are very attractive. The white and lemon colors are pure white and pure yellow. Violet Wing is a bicolor of white and rich, deep violet-purple. The flower color I may like the best is Frost, which has white petals tinged with light lavender. All of the flowers have yellow eyes with whisker lines radiating from the center, resembling an artist’s delicate brushstrokes.

Following the thriller, spiller, filler formula for combination containers, Cool Waves are well suited as spiller plants. Try combining them with Ruby Streaks or Red giant mustard as the thriller and Montego dwarf snapdragon or Telstar dianthus as the colorful filler.

One particular attribute of pansies that impresses me in the garden and landscape is their cold tolerance. Cool Wave trailing pansies are no different. These plants are hardy through U.S. Department of Agriculture Zone 5, which makes them well adapted to our Mississippi growing zones.

Even when these plants seem frozen solid during really cold weather, they will have only minor damage when temperatures moderate. The most visible effect will be some purpling of the foliage. Though any flowers open during these extreme temperatures will be goners when it warms up, flowering will resume very quickly after that.

Cool Wave trailing pansies need to be grown in at least six hours of full sun each day for the best flowering and growth. It is important to maintain consistent moisture for the plants. The fall and winter months can be dry, so be sure to stay current with a watering schedule.

All pansies are heavy feeders and will stop flowering when the soil nutrition gets too low. Apply a water-soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks to maintain good plant growth throughout the cool season.

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Released: November 26, 2012
Contact: Dr. Gary Bachman, (228) 546-1009

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Gary Bachman is an associate Extension research professor of horticulture at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. Locate Southern Gardening columns and television and radio programs on the Internet at http://msucares.com/news/.]

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