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15.11.12

Cool Wave Pansy 'Violet Wing'

If you want to insult a man, call him a pansy. It's one of those words that can be used in mixed company and stings without the need to resort to profanity. But the only man that will take umbrage with being called a pansy is a man who hasn't grown one in a garden before. A man that gardens knows pansies are tough. Pansies are among the few annuals you can plant in your garden in the spring that will take the cold and rain and keep coming back. This year I grew 'Violet Wing' pansies that came in the plant sample box that Ball Horticulture sent out to garden communicators to trial in our gardens.

Cool Wave Violet Wing


Like many men would, I tossed out informational material provided with the box of plants without reading it. I mean, who needs instructions to grow plants? They're pansies. I've grown pansies before--it isn't that hard. It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago when I was preparing this post that I realized I should have read the information packet.

Apparently, "Cool Wave" is more than just a marketing term. It actually describes the growth habit of this series of pansies. These are "spreading" pansies and are selected to be grown in container gardens to trail over the sides of your pots.

All summer long I kept wondering what I was doing wrong and why these pansies kept falling over the sides of the self-watering planter I was growing them in and touching the deck. At first I thought maybe they were so long because they didn't have enough light, but the container garden is in full sun. So that couldn't be the problem.

Pansy Violet Wing

Since we had a horribly hot and dry summer, I thought maybe the pansies were falling over the sides of the planter because of the heat. It almost drove me mad trying to figure out what was going on with these plants. Had I read the information Ball Hort provided, I would've know they're suppose to spill over the sides of planters. They reportedly spread a good 30 inches, making them ideal for containers and as a ground cover. They're also suppose to be pretty hardy and will return in the spring in some gardening zones.

Another feature of this pansy that I really liked was the way the light-colored petals of the flower start off a creamy color and slowly this blue tint appears and spreads in the lower petals. One day you have creamy white blooms and the next time you look at them it looks like an ink pen leaked in your shirt.

I was also surprised by how well 'Violet Wing' performed in the container garden considering the drought we experienced this year. Normally, I'll plant some pansies in the spring and tear them out in the summer when they stop blooming when it gets hot. But these guys kept blooming all summer long and never stopped. They were still blooming two days before I wrote this when I finally tossed the plants in the container garden in the compost pile.

If you're looking for a "spiller" in your container garden combinations, give  pansy 'Violet Wing' a shot in your garden. It is one tough pansy.

Got a favorite pansy? Do you prefer the large-flowered types of pansies, or do you prefer the smaller blooms of pansies like 'Violet Wing'?

21 comments:

  1. Am having to re-evaluate pansies. For years I have seen them as filler for the fall and early spring and have not paid a lot of attention. You know, buy a mixed flat in the color blend of the year and voila!

    But, that is a gorgeous flower!

    I wanted to attribute your tossing the instructions to that pesky Y-chromosome you have, but the truth is ... I would have tossed them, too. Glad you solved the mystery. Will add this to my list for next year. thanks.

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    1. Webb, I too have always thought of pansies as something you just use as filler for the spring and fall. Beautiful filler, but not much beyond that. I'm wondering if there are more varieties like this that perform well during the heat of summer. I spoke to a rep from Ball Hort at a trade show and mentioned that the pansies were still blooming in August and she mentioned a colleague was reporting the same with them. What both of us had in common was that we were growing them in self-watering containers so maybe the added moisture keept them going?

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  2. I never realized pansies could grow through the summer. I'll have to try some of these "waves". Thanks!

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    1. Modern Mia, Usually pansies don't grow through the summer unless you have a cool micro climate in the garden where you can plant them. They usually shut down in the summer and start to look better once the cooler temps arrive. I think it's the breeding involved in the Cool Wave series that is creating pansies that are more heat resistant.

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    2. I was thinking it was odd for them to hang around through the summer. I've never even been able to get them out into the garden before Thanksgiving. I still don't have a micro-climate cool enough but it would be nice to be able to put some out before Thanksgiving for some extra pops of color.

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  3. Love the colors of that pansy! I don't usually grow them, but plant a lot of them for clients and sometimes end up with a few leftovers from a flat that I'll plant here. I like them all, but my favorites are the little ones.

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    1. Garden Girl, As much as I like the big-headed ones that seem to be so popular with garden designers and landscapers, I too like the little pansies the best. I don't know what the point of a big, beautiful bloom is if it is always laying flat in the soil. The little pansies are the best in the garden, in my opinion.

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  4. Those are some awesome pansies. The heat always does them in here but I like to get them as early as possible to get the blooms when nothing else is going yet. Love the color of these and that they trail!

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    1. Gardener on Sherlock Street, You're right that pansies are great for the spring and fall gardens when there isn't much else blooming.

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  5. Glad to hear such a positive recommendations. I've been burned before by overhype. Heck, I use to write ads for PanAmerican Seed soI knowhow to do will definitely add to next year's list.

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    1. Patrick, Considering your old position and your garden blog now, I'm surprised you don't get a sample box from Ball. Like I mentioned in a comment above, the success of the plant may be attributed to me growing them in a self-watering container. But who knows. I should also have tested the overwintering ability of the line by planting them in the garden and seeing if they came back next year.

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  6. I have always used pansies before as just a spring and fall fill in. I've bought the hardy ones that are supposed to come back in spring, I think they were called sub-zero pansies. They never came back for me. Guess it's too cold in Wisconsin for them:)

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    1. Hosta Nerd, Yeah, you guys get really cold up there. These pansies are suppose to overwinter pretty well (like I mentioned to Patrick above) I should have tested that too. Unfortunately, I tossed them before I had the chance.

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  7. I never read directions either. I probably would have tried to stake the pansies. Sounds pretty amazing, especially that they last through the summer.

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    1. Jason, LMAO. I almost tied them together with string to keep them from trailing. And staking them certainly crossed my mind. :0)

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  8. I love pansies, and I love how tough they are, living through our winters here in the Pacific Northwest, yet "pansy" is a put down to men for not being manly. Beautiful irony.

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  9. P.S. I wrote a story a few years ago about the Pansy Project. I love them. http://www.thepansyproject.com/

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    1. Lelo, I think you may have been the person who introduced me to The Pansy Project. I have a draft here sorta about the project and its theme, I'm just kind of needing to work some things out before I publish it.

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  10. Sounds like a nice trailer for a hanging basket, especially with blooms all summer. I notice that pansies usually look nice all season in WI and MN anyway, but it's good to know there's a new variety that will tough it out through a hot spell.

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  11. I haven't grown these flowers; got to try. Lovely photos!

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  12. Anonymous6:15 PM

    We had about 50 cool wave pansys we planted last fall and overwinter in MA. Neighbors were stunned that we had flowers all winter when snow wasn't covering them. They are huge now. I hope they bloom all summer.

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