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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

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Trailing pansies: The first ever from cuttings

Posted by Graham Rice on 20 Jun 2010 at 04:59 PM

Viola,pansy,Balconita,Cheeky Yellow. Image: ©David Kerley.Pansies are probably the most popular of all spring container plants: sparkling colours, tough, and easy to grow. For decades all the varieties were tight and compact; then we had trailing types from seed. Now, we have the final step: trailing pansies grown from cuttings.

We’ve had trailing violas from cuttings, but these British-bred Balconita pansies have much larger flowers, in much brighter colours and instead of hanging down in sheets like the early Surfinia petunias they develop a much more elegant habit. And why from cuttings? Because they’re guaranteed uniform, no off colours and no variation in how – or if – they trail.

Developed by British plant breeder David Kerley, he also created the Tumbelina double petunias and the Belarina double primroses.Viola,pansy,Balconita,Meridian Blue,Friolina. Image: ©David Kerley.

“We started to breed the trailing pansies in 2000,” David told me, “but it proved difficult to incorporate the trailing habit… It was four seasons before we saw the first signs that we were on the right track and by then we were perilously close to giving up. In the end I think we grew around 80-90,000 plants to get these first four varieties and the three we have in the pipeline.

“The habit is fairly horizontal initially, then hanging as the stems elongate. They are not the “grow upright and fall over” type, that’s not really trailing at all. The challenge was to produce a compact plant in a pot which looked attractive and was easy to manage in the garden centre but still trailed well after planting.”Viola,pansy,Balconita,Deep Red. Image: ©David Kerley. The picture above (click to enlarge) shows 'Balconita Meridian Blue' with the trailing viola 'Friolina Blue White Cascadiz' and the buy-in-the-garden centre stage.

Those first four in the Balconita Series are ‘Cheeky Yellow’ (top, click to enlarge), ‘Deep Red’ (left, click to enlarge), ‘Meridien Blue’, and ‘White Surprise’ but at the moment they are only available in a mixture.

You can order Trailing Pansy 'Balconita Mixed' from Thompson & Morgan. The plants will flower in the autumn, but the main display will come in spring.


asj said:

Yet again beautiful new plants only being offered in mixed colours!  When will they realise that people like to choose their own colours???

on 20 Jun 2010 at 06:10 PM

Graham Rice said:

I know... it is annoying. But it often seems to happen when a new variety is first offered and they offer separate colours later.

on 20 Jun 2010 at 06:38 PM

Graham Rice said:

The breeder, David Kerley, tells me today: "Separate colours will be available from retailers next spring."

on 21 Jun 2010 at 06:07 PM