This time of year we often have customers wondering what to put in their patio containers that will look good through the fall and winter. Pansies are a great choice for winter color and there have been a lot of improvements made to the trailing varieties, which are great for containers. We grow two different varieties of trailing pansies, the Cool Wave and the Wonderfalls. Both varieties come in multiple color choices. While most pansies have more of a mounding growth habit the Cool Wave and Wonderfalls have a more vigorous growth habit and will spread 18”-30” making them perfect for containers and hanging baskets.
Adding something upright to complement your containers is also a great choice. Some of the best over-wintering options are dusty miller, flowering kale, flowering cabbage, and snapdragons. They are great choices for adding texture and color to containers but they are also great for your flowerbeds serving similar purposes.
For fall and winter gardening, it’s good to know about pythium, a root disease that pansies are susceptible to. Pythium has been more prevalent in the Rogue Valley over the last few years. One of the best tools to control pythium in your flowerbeds is crop rotation. Dusty miller, flowering kale and flowering cabbage are great alternatives for planting pansies. Choosing not to plant something in the same spot over and over each year can greatly reduce unwanted diseases in your soil. For containers it is important to make sure and use fresh potting soil rather than re-using the soil you used for your summer plants. If you haven’t had problems with pythium in the past years it doesn’t mean it won’t show-up in your soil in the future. To prevent pythium it is very important not to overwater, avoid watering in the late afternoon and evenings, and amend your soil to improve drainage. Pythium thrives in cool, moist conditions so it’s good to give plants only the amount of water they need. Let plants dry out between waterings, and water in the mornings so that they have all day to dry off and allow excess water to drain away.