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Pansies Love Cool Weather

PansyFlickr Kazandrew2

With the mild winter we’ve been experiencing (February 2012), you’ve probably noticed that the pansies that you or others planted last fall have been blooming all winter. Pansies love cool weather, and if you need a spot of color for containers or flower beds, pansies are the thing to plant now. I’m a perennial fan, but there is no doubt that pansies are my favorite annual. Because…

Pansies are available in all colors, either in mixed colors or solid colors. They can have the little pansy “face” a blotch in the center, or be solid colors. They can be large flowers, or small and delicate. The little guys are called Violas. They flower for months, fall; winter off-and-on; and they really burst into growth and bloom in spring. You get so much from such a small investment.

If you plant them now, they will flower right up through the hot weather of early June. As the days grow longer and warmer (and the nights grow warmer), pansies start to stretch and the flowers get smaller. By that time you can replace them with your summer petunias or begonias.

Plant them in a sunny location, or a location that gets a bit of shade when the trees leaf out. It’s too cold yet for organic fertilizers to be active (soil bacteria have to break them down and the soil is too cold for the bacteria to do much), so this would be a good time to use an inorganic fertilizer, especially in a container. In fall plantings, the soil is still warm and you can use an organic like Plant-tone.

Got deer and rabbit issues? They do like to eat the pansy flowers. Since pansies are so low to the ground, they are easily protected with bird netting, and the netting is almost invisible from a distance. In containers, they will be pretty safe from rabbits, which after all, are pretty short. Containers close to the house will reduce the deer incidents although deer will sometimes come up to the door, eat the pansy flowers from the containers, ring the doorbell a couple of times and run away laughing.

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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