In recent years, advances in pansy breeding have brought a new class of pansies with trailing growth habits to market. These pansies have great sell-through at retail in spring and fall because of their unique spilling habit, floriferous growth and continuous flowering. The new WonderFall pansy series from Syngenta is an example of a trailing pansy with large blooms, specialty flower colors and a vigorous, well-branched habit.
Production time for WonderFall pansy is four to five weeks for 288-cell trays and five to six weeks for 128-cell trays. For optimum germination, maintain media temperature at 65°F to 68°F and relative humidity at 95 to 100 percent until radicle emergence (about two to five days). On day six or once cotyledons emerge, reduce humidity to 40 to 70 percent, alternate media moisture between medium and moist, lower night temperature to 60°F to 65°F and increase light levels to 1,500 to 2,500 foot candles.
After cotyledons expand, begin fertilizing with 50 to 75 ppm nitrogen from a nitrate-based fertilizer with a target media electrical conductivity (EC) level of 0.5 to 0.75 mS/cm (2:1 dilution method). Use fertilizers with low phosphorous to avoid soft, stretchy shoot growth. Throughout plug production and finishing, maintain a media pH of 5.5 to 5.8. At approximately two weeks after sowing, increase fertilizer rate to 75 to 125 ppm nitrogen and media EC to 0.75 to 1.0 mS/cm.
During plug bulking, maintain day temperatures at 62°F to 68°F and night temperatures at 55°F to 62°F and provide light levels of 4,000 to 5,500 foot candles. To reduce stretch, spray B-Nine plant growth regulator at 2,500 to 3,500 ppm, A-Rest plant growth regulator at 2 to 5 ppm or a tank mix of B-Nine and A-Rest. Plugs should be transplanted on time to avoid premature flowering during finishing and to realize the maximum branching potential of WonderFall.
WonderFall trailing pansies are best finished in premium containers or baskets. For 288-cell plugs, use:
• one plug per quart pot
• one to two plugs per 6-inch pot
• three plugs per 10-inch basket
• four to five plugs per 12-inch basket Additional seedlings per container will promote stretching and reduce finish quality.
The crop is best grown at 60°F to 70°F day and 50°F to 65°F night temperatures. Provide light levels of 4,000 to 6,000 foot candles to produce high-quality plants. Fertilize with a nitrate-based fertilizer at 100 to 150 ppm nitrogen.
During fall production under short days and at an average daily temperature of 65°F, crop time from transplant of 288-cell trays is:
• five to six weeks for finishing in quarts
• six to seven weeks for 10- to 12-inch hanging baskets.
For spring production at cooler temperatures, timing is one to two weeks longer.
WonderFall is more vigorous than traditional pansies and growth regulation is recommended when grown under warm temperatures. However, under cool spring temperatures, minimal or no plant growth regulators may be needed.
To suppress stem extension use one of the following foliar sprays:
• Bonzi plant growth regulator at 5 to 10 ppm
• A tank mix of B-Nine at 3,500 to 5,000 ppm and Cycocel plant growth regulator at 500 to 750 ppm
• A tank mix of B-Nine at 1,250 to 2,500 ppm and A-Rest at 4 to 8 ppm
Rates will vary depending on location and time of year. During late summer production under warm temperatures or to hold the crop, a Bonzi drench at 0.1 to 0.25 ppm can also be applied.