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Explore the World of Pansies

PansyFlickr Kazandrew2

Winter Blues got you down? Awaken your garden with bursts of color! Pansies, along with their smaller cousins Violas, make your hibernating garden come alive. Pansies are the perfect cool-season plant for containers, or tuck them in beds along with your spring bulbs. They come in nearly every color, including Blue, in case you just want to embrace your Winter Blues.

PansyFlickrFoonarIn addition to the wide color selection, and size of the flower, you also have the choice of having “faces” (contrasting color patterns) or clear colors on the petals. There’s a tradeoff between flower size and quantity of flowers. The Violas are small, but they make it up in volume, having perhaps five or ten flowers for each flower of the larger-flowered pansies.

Unlike most other flowering annuals, pansies thrive in the cool weather and die back in the summer heat. If you planted your Pansies in the fall they probably hunkered down to wait out the snow and ice of the winter, but will perk back up in the spring bigger and better than before. When they start growing again in late winter or spring, give them a “haircut” to remove the tall spindly winter growth and encourage lush, bushy plants.

When the temperature stabilizes, we recommend that you feed pansies with a fertilizer specifically designed for pansies and use on cold soil. Be sure to pinch off spent flowers to encourage more flowering and lush growth. If you did not plant in the fall, you can plant in late winter/spring, for color in containers or the garden until it’s warm enough for your summer plants.

Pansies prefer light conditions of full sun to partial shade, and will flower best in a nutrient-rich soil (that is, if you fertilize). Pansies hate to have their roots constantly wet, especially during the spring thaws, and they like to have plenty of organic matter in the soil to feed the blooms. If your soil stays soggy-wet, try growing your pansies in containers on your patio or porch. When in containers, they become a movable garden and may be moved from place to place, wherever that splash of color is needed.

pansyflickrlambjWhen the temperatures begin to soar, remove the pansies from the garden and freshen the garden up with Spring/Summer blooming Annuals that will take you from Spring to frost when it is time to plant pansies again. With so many choices, your garden need never be lonely or bare. Summer-blooming perennials tend to bloom for a long time, and you could also use them as the bones of the garden, with the pansies to give you needed color at the end of the season when the perennials go dormant for the winter.

pansy-yellowTo get the most out of Pansies and Violas: plant again in September to maximize the seasons. Pansies planted in the fall will provide you with two seasons of color, you will have plenty of blooms in the fall and then your little guys will slow down as the temperatures fall; but once the snow and cold temperatures are gone, you will be rewarded with yet another flush of color. There have been times when I have seen these cold tolerant little creatures push their heads out through the snow on warm winter day to say “hello.” Bright shining faces ready to welcome the coming of spring!

Posted By: Marian Parsley, Annuals Buyer/Manager

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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