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Panola Panache Offers New Fall Color Choices
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Panola is a new plant this fall that will have gardeners talking. The promotion will be called Panola Panache. I can see the wheels turning now. "What is a Panola?" Well, it is a cross between a pansy and viola, and it comes from Waller Flowerseed in California. They are already starting to show up in garden centers and more are on the way.
This unique plant will come in several colors, and at least one is sure to please your palate. The Panache Red with blotch is a really unique, deep-rich color. The Panache True Blue, Panache Primrose and Panache Yellow are my favorites. They also come in Panache Blue with blotch, Panache White with blotch and a mix.
The Panola looks to have the best of both worlds from its parents. The flowers are not as large as a pansy but 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, violas or pansies, prepare the bed. Till in 3 to 4 inches of organic matter into your bed to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. While tilling, incorporate 2 pounds per 100 square feet of a slow-release, 12-6-6 fertilizer or a ratio reasonably close.
This soil preparation and addition of organic matter is the key to your green thumb. Organic matter can be purchased by the bag, cubic yard or truck full. When you look at the price by the cubic yard, you'll see it is a small price to pay for the key ingredient to your successful winter bed of color.
By incorporating organic matter like humus, compost or peat into native soil, good things start to happen. Organic matter helps loosen the soil for better water penetration and aeration leading to good root development. Have you ever dug up a bedding plant and remarked that the plant had not even put out any new roots? That more than likely was due to no soil preparation. Remember that soil improvement is a continual process.
Organic matter is equally important in cases of more sandy soil. Sand is made up of the largest particles allowing for quick drainage and leaching of nutrients. By adding organic matter, the water holding capacity improves, and the nutrients needed by plants can be retained. Plant the Panola at the same depth it is growing in the container. Planting too deeply will most likely prove fatal.
Temperatures may still be real warm when planting, so keep them watered and apply a layer of protective mulch. Panolas are heavy feeders and a twice-a-month application of a complete water-soluble fertilizer will keep them growing. Deadhead to keep the flowers coming.
Panolas combine well with flowering kale and cabbage, and snapdragons. As you plant your bed of Panolas, interplant spring daffodils. By the time the foliage of the daffodils emerges, the Panolas will have spread. Try using the smaller flowered daffodils like Tazettas or Jonquils. Mass your plantings of single colors for prettiest show.
For a really show-stopping display, plant a large group of single-colored, 24-inch tall snapdragons such as yellow Sonnets or Liberties to the back of the bed with a mass of the blue Panolas in front. The Panache Red will also look awesome with snapdragons.