Tips For Cool-Season Color

Jeff Gibson - Ball Seed Landscape Business Manager
Thursday, September 19, 2019

Fall can be a pretty “cool” time to plant. It’s actually ideal: The intense, sometimes damaging summer sun and heat are past; the soil is still warm to encourage root growth; and the seasonal rains help plants establish.

The following proven performers offer bright, long-lasting color for your cool-season installations. Use the alternative varieties suggested in our 2019 Thrive brochure to change up the look while keeping the same combo recipe.

This fall combo puts on the purple! Start with spreading pansy Cool Wave® in Violet Wing. It spreads 24-30 in. (61-76cm). Its companion filler / spiller is Clear Crystal® Lavender Shades Alyssum. Besides its delicate look, there’s a soft fragrance that kicks up with a breeze. Blue Arrows Juncus is a go-to grass element that offers structure and height. Center it in the container as a beacon in your design.

Pansy Cool Wave

Juncus Blue Arrows

Alyssum Clear Crysal

Height: 6-8 in. Height: 36 in. Height: 6-10 in.
Spread: 24-30 in. Spread: 12 in. Spread: 12-14 in.
Exposure: Sun Exposure: Sun Exposure: Sun

Some additional fall-planting tips ...

1. Start with bigger plants
For those of you in the North, your soil starts to cool in October, with containers cooling even faster. Buy bigger plants for bed plantings to maximize instant fall color. For larger containers, “pack them in” for best show.

In the South, your soils are still warm until November, so you have some additional growing time in ground beds and containers. Make sure your grower has “hardened off” the plants (finished them outside) prior to planting, particularly if you plan to keep them in the ground over Winter.

Violas are the best choice for keeping a great look in the beds through the winter in the South. (I highly recommend the Sorbet Viola series.)

2. Avoid root compaction!!!
Disease will easily set in if you plant into compacted soils stomped on during the removal of summer color items. Compaction doesn’t allow rapid root development and can aggravate water sitting at the root level, leading to water logging and disease. Many growers will apply a fungicide prior to shipping/delivery. Ask if that’s an option for you.

3. Pansy TLC
Lack of feed shortens bed time on pansies. Liquid fertilizer is best at 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 fast. Pansies are one of the low pH-loving plants (petunias and primulas are as well). Test the soil pH if you see signs of stress.

Check out our Thrive archives for more tips and suggestions for top-performing fall designs.

Article originally appeared on See website for complete article licensing information.