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Pansies, Violas or Panolas?


Pansies or Violas? Which is your favorite?

By, Ann Meisoll

Pansies have been a staple of fall planting for years. As Richmond winters have gotten colder and more unreliable, people have started looking for an alternative that would give them just as much (or more) color, and be more Winter hardy. Violas are a great choice, but there are two other newcomers on the scene also.

To break down the differences:
Pansies are beautiful cool-season plants with vibrant big blooms in solid colors or with a face in the middle of the bloom. Violas look like miniature pansies with brilliant solid color blooms, or blooms with faces. Viola blooms are much smaller, but much more prolific than regular pansies.

To complicate matters, there is a newer plant out now called a Panola. Panolas are a cross between pansies and violas. The blooms are slightly smaller than pansies, and the plants have the hardiness of a viola.

Photo by Kate Field (no changes made)

Photo by Kate Field (no changes made)

Cool Wave pansies are one more choice for Fall color. They have blooms about the size of a quarter, but they tend to grow lower, with a trailing habit. Cool Waves look great as a ground cover, or in a container draping over the sides. You can even grow them in a hanging basket.

Violas are the most hardy of the four choices, and they seem to bloom the best. Snow won’t slow them down, but a long wet winter can be rough on them. No matter which flower you choose, give it a fighting chance by following a few basic care tips.

1. Plant them in a sunny area.
2. Be sure to water them during sunny dry weather, even if it is cold outside.
3. Feed them once a month with ferti-lome Bedding Plant food.
4. Be sure to mulch them after you’re done planting. This will help retain moisture and warmth in the soil, and prevent them from being heaved up out of the soil during a warm spell.
5. If they look wilted and sad after a really cold spell, they will usually perk up once it warms up a bit.
Consider creating a mixed container with violas, evergreen ferns, and anything else that catches your eye. Give yourself a spot of color all winter long.

Hint: Want some spectacular color in the spring? Put tulips or daffodils in the bottom of a pot, and plant violas or pansies on top. The bulbs will start to poke thru at the beginning of spring, and you’ll end up with a great combination pot!

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