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True Blue, Peach Frost have electrifying color
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The wind chill of 39 degrees this morning told me I better start getting ready to plant pansies and violas. As usual, I find myself a little behind in bed preparation. I need to tidy up the area where lantanas and verbenas have run rampant.
In 2000, the Panola was a Mississippi Medallion award winner, and there were just a handful of colors that first year. This fall, there are 22 colors and nine mixes. One of the most sought-after no doubt will be the True Blue Panola.
There are so many pansies on the market that at the California Pack Trials, nursery owners and growers almost yawned as they walked through the display. I am exaggerating a little, but it takes an extra special variety to get someone to take a photograph. However, nearly all stopped for a picture of the new and improved True Blue Panola with its almost iridescent, electrifying blue flowers.
Let me remind you what is so good about the Panola series. I can sum it up in one word: longevity. The Panola is a medium-sized pansy with genetics from both sides of the family, violas and pansies. Not only does it put up a lot of flowers, but also it has shown remarkable heat tolerance. So as you head into spring and should be planting warm-season flowers, the Panola will still be looking good.
In addition to the True Blue Panola, a couple of violas captured their share of photographs. Peach Frost in the Sorbet series are almost indescribable in color. First, you will find a healthy dose of the same blue as the True Blue Panola, but moving toward the center of the flower is a creamy yellow with a splash of hot orange. One of the hallmarks of the Sorbet series is a wide range of colors and blends.
The other attention-grabbing viola was the Splendid Blue and Yellow. The Splendid series only comes in three colors but the Blue and Yellow alone are enough to bring pleasure to any cool-season landscape. It offers similar colors to the Peach Frost. Both Splendid and Peach Frost have an enticing fragrance, so get some for containers near an entryway so you can “stop and smell the violas.”
Choose a site with plenty of sun, work in some peat to make your beds fertile and well drained. Add a layer of mulch after planting, and you will have a cool-season landscape that will look good for months. Do remember that as cold fronts come in and often have a drying effect these beautiful flowers will need to be watered.
When shopping at a local garden center, don't fret if any of these specific varieties aren't there. There are so many choices you are bound to find a suitable substitute. On the other hand, keep your eyes peeled because I know they are around.