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Panolas Receive Fall Medallion Honors
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The panola is the first winner of a fall Mississippi Medallion award, and the state's gardeners can choose from seven colors and a mix of Panola Panache.
Panola is a cross between a pansy and viola, and it comes from Waller Genetics in California. They are already starting to show up in garden centers, and more are on the way.
This plant will come in a color that is sure to please your palate. The Panache Red with blotch is a unique, rich color. Other Panola Panache colors are true blue, primrose, yellow, blue with blotch, white with blotch and a mix.
The panola seems to have gotten the best features of its parents. The flowers are not as large as a pansy but are larger than a viola. Plants will grow 6 to 8 inches tall and are prolific bloomers that may have dozens of quarter-sized flowers at one time. For this reason, they deserve a place in the landscape and in containers on the patio or deck. The sheer number of flowers produced makes them every bit as showy, even from a distance, as the pansy.
Choose a site in full sun to partial shade and set plants out in October and November for the prettiest displays. Before planting panolas, prepare the bed by tilling in 3 to 4 inches of organic matter to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. While tilling, incorporate two pounds per 100 square feet of a slow-release, 12-6- 6 fertilizer or a ratio reasonably close to this.
Plant the panola at the same depth it is growing in the container. Planting too deeply will most likely prove fatal.
Preparing the soil and adding organic matter is the key. One of the easiest ways to prepare beds for any flower is buy the specially prepared landscape mixes from the local garden center. You've most likely seen public buildings, apartments and malls with some of the prettiest displays in what was a horrendous summer. Landscape specialists buy these special blends by the cubic yard and you can, too!
Organic matter helps loosen tight clay soils for better water penetration, aeration and good root development. Organic matter is important on the Coast and in other locales that have sandy soil. Sand is made up of the largest particles, allowing for quick drainage and leaching of nutrients. Organic matter improves the water-holding capacity and helps retain vital nutrients.
If temperatures may are still warm when planting, make sure to keep the panolas watered and apply a layer of protective mulch. Panolas are heavy feeders. Feed monthly with a light application of slow released fertilizer. Feed those grown in containers every other week with a dilute water-soluble fertilizer. Periodic deadheading will keep the flowers coming.
Panolas combine well with flowering kale, cabbage and snapdragons. Interplant smaller flowered spring daffodils like Tazettas or Jonquils as you plant the panolas,. By the time the foliage of the daffodils emerges, the panolas will have spread. Mass plant single colors for the prettiest show.
For a really show-stopping display, plant a large group of single-colored, 24-inch tall snapdragons such as yellow Sonnets or Crowns to the back of the bed with a mass of the blue panolas in front. The Panache Red also looks awesome with snapdragons.
The panola has shown remarkable heat tolerance going into late spring, so keep them watered and fed for a longer display.
The Mississippi Medallion award is sponsored by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association and the Mississippi Plant Selections Committee. Over the past five years, they have introduced gardeners to outstanding plants like New Gold lantana; New Wonder scaevola and Biloxi Blue verbena. Gardeners will love the panola, too!