Pert, saucy, and perfect for a quick spark of colour in spring and fall, pansies are a favourite amongst gardeners. Here’s some ways you can grow them in your own garden.
1. Pansies add colour to any garden
- Famed for their intricate markings and long flowering time, pansies bloom in a wide colour range, from white to wine.
- Beloved older strains of pansies feature blotched flowers that look like faces.
- Modern varieties may have no blotch at all or be “mini-pansies”: small-flowered hybrids of Johnny-jump-ups.
- Use pansies as constants in the spring garden to unify colours that come and go on spring-flowering bulbs and shrubs.
- Yellow or white pansies are invaluable, and mixing in blues provides a beautiful contrast.
2. They’re very hardy
- Flower breeders have improved the winter hardiness of pansies. So much so that hardy varieties can be planted in fall in Zone 6.
- In all areas, pansies can go into beds, containers or window boxes even before the last frost in spring.
3. They’re easy to plant
- Bedding plant pansies are inexpensive and come in great variety at garden centers, usually with a bloom or two showing the flower colours.
- Look for compact young plants that have not begun to flop.
- Space larger-flowered types 20 centimetres (eight inches) apart. Allow 25 centimetres (10 inches) for bushy mini pansies.
- Before planting, work a balanced organic or timed-release fertilizer into the soil. Use the rate recommended on the label.
- Set out pansies as early as possible in the fall, so they’ll be well-rooted when soil temperatures fall below 7° C.
- In spring, begin setting out pansies up to a month before your last frost is expected.
4. Pansies are low-maintenance
- Should your plants grow lean and leggy, they probably need more fertilizer or more sun.
- Pinching off old flowers helps promote bloom.
- In warm climates, pale, scrawny-looking pansies may fall victim to minute, wormlike soil organisms called rootknot nematodes. There is no cure.
- Check for hard, swollen nodules on roots to confirm this problem and dispose of infested plants.
- Leaves and flowers that are chewed and marked with slimy trails are the handiwork of slugs and snails. Set saucers of beer on the ground to lure and drown these pests.
- Pansies stop flowering and die out in hot weather. It’s best to replace them with heat-tolerant flowering annuals.
5. Pansies come in near-limitless choices
- Pansies have been bred primarily for colour, making it easy to paint your landscape with them.
- Generally, varieties with large, eight-centimetre (three-inch) flowers, such as the Majestic Giant, set fewer blooms than smaller-flowered varieties, like the Crystal Bowl.
- Vigorous mini-pansies, often called violas, produce hundreds of 2.5-centimetre-diameter (one-inch) flowers on mounding plants. They bloom better in cold weather than fancier hybrids.
Pansies are easy-to-plant, easy-to-grow and beautiful to look at. Be sure to keep an eye on them once they’re growing to keep them safe from pests. If you do, your garden could be a lot more colourful.