Growing Great Places Together

Hot tips for the cool season

Freshen up spring with these pops of colour
By Jeff Gibson, Ball Landscape Business Manager

When the weather breaks and landscapes burst forth with renewed colour, it lifts our spirits and excites us for the spring season ahead. It’s unfortunate this time of year is so short-lived, but you still can offer customers that brief “pop of colour” using tried-and-true pansy and viola varieties, along with other plants that can take the chill. Here’s a few fresh and colourful plant recommendations.

Spreading Pansy Cool Wave® Raspberry Swirl & Strawberry Swirl

Spreading pansies are THE choice for early-spring hanging baskets and containers. You’ll want your grower to provide them in 5″/12cm pots to maximize their spreading habit.

Alyssum Snow Crystals
Alyssum Clear Crystal® Lavender Shades

An added bonus to these alyssum choices is their softly fragrant blooms. Perfect for baskets or spillers in containers.

Dianthus Coronet™ Strawberry

Crowned with huge flowers, this low-growing dianthus makes a colourful statement in landscape borders or planters.

Pansy Panola® Silhouette Mixture

As its name implies, Panola is a pansy that acts like a viola – the best of both worlds! The plants have larger flowers, stand up to the weather, and have a vigorous habit for good flower show.

Viola Sorbet® XP Lemon Jump Up

The “XP” stands for Extra Performance. These plants are small but mighty – tough, tough, tough! Best planted in masses 6″/15cm on center. They have fast fill-in and are rain, snow and wind tolerant.

Tips for success

Choosing spring flower colours may be a simple process, but it’s a successful installation that makes all the difference. Here are a few additional pointers from the experts at Ball.

Bigger IS better. For northern landscapers, planting pansies into soil that’s roughly 10°C or cooler in spring is your biggest challenge to plant growth and fill-in. Installing bigger plants in larger containers will get you over that. “Cracking colour” is the state you want your plants to be in when you receive them. Work with your grower to harden off the plants (finish them outside) prior to planting.

Avoid root compaction – period! Disease will easily set in if you plant pansies into compacted soils in the spring. Compaction doesn’t allow rapid root development and can aggravate water sitting at the root level, leading to water logging and disease. Most growers will apply a fungicide prior to ship. Ask if that’s the case.

Lack of feed shortens bed time on pansies. Liquid fertilizer is best 1 to 1.5 weeks after planting to supercharge the roots. Purple leaves mean “feed me” (phosphorus in particular). That will get your pansies to look their best until the summer turn. Pansies are one of the low pH-loving plants (others are petunias and primulas).

With these helpful tips and fresh recommendations of colour, it will be easy for you to enjoy the early season.