This pseudo-winter has fooled me into all sorts of outdoor thinking. In more rational moments, I know there’s probably a huge wallop of snow coming between now and the end of March. But my more enthusiastic angels are saying to get on with spring planning. And with just the mere suspicion of spring, a gardener’s thoughts turn to — pansies!
Wouldn’t you know, there’s a new pansy bred to do the unexpected. Plentifall pansies are in seed catalogues (stokeseed.com, harrisseeds.com, thompson-morgan.com), and I hope they will also be in garden centres this spring. Plentifall looks like many other purple, lavender, white and yellow whiskered pansies, but its growth habit is semi-trailing. Plants are six to eight inches (15 to 20 cm) tall and spread 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm), making them perfect for hanging baskets and containers, where their long trailing stems of pansy flowers can cascade down the sides. What’s more, they can be planted directly into the garden and used as a groundcover, which seems a startling idea to me. Instead of straggling along, the plants will spread out and meld together into a mat, making a long-flowering display in full sun to partial shade. And Plentifall is nicely scented.
Some hybridizers just don’t know restraint, and they kept working more features into these pansies. Plentifall has superior cold hardiness and can be expected to overwinter in the ground in Zone 6. At the start of winter, plants set out in spring can be covered with straw, and then a layer of leaves; early the following spring, they’ll grow again. Or, seeds can be started in summer for planting out in mid-August for an autumn display lasting until hard frost, then covered for winter, and another growth period in spring.
Plentifall has exceptional vigor; so much so that it can’t be grown in standard cell packs, and requires a larger pot for nursery sales. That brings up the initial cost, but these pansies cover a lot of territory and provide a long season of bloom, with possibly even a second display the following spring, so are worth the investment. I really appreciate it when plant scientists turn their skills to making plants stronger and more useful. The hybridizers at PanAmerican Seeds are my new best friends!