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  HOME AND GARDEN » Annuals  


Hardy and prolific, pansies bloom during cool weather when many other annuals have long been frosted away. In fact, pansies may be planted in the fall in all but the coldest climates. Fall planting is best where summers are hot; spring planting is good where summer days seldom exceed 90 degrees. The pansy palette is huge and you can choose between varieties with interesting blotch patterns, which most people call "faces". There are also solid colors with more subtle markings. Landscape type pansies generally have smaller blooms but more of them than older, giant-flowered types. The landscape types are often more tolerant of extremes in weather, too. Super-tough miniature pansies, known as violas and Johnny jump-ups, are grown just like regular pansies and are well suited to containers.


pansy parade.jpg (53463 bytes)Because pansies are planted in fall or early spring when soil temperatures are cool, they benefit from special fertilizers that contain nitrate forms nitrogen in addition to phosphorous and potassium. The nitrate form is more available in cool soils than are other forms of nitrogen. Look for 19-6-12 with timed-release fertilizer which contains a high percentage of nitrate nitrogen. Before setting out your plants, mix the fertilizer into well-cultivated soil along with a 2-inch deep layer of flower planting mix, compost, or other type of organic matter. Take care to plant pansies at the same depth they grew in their containers because planting too deeply can encourage disease.

Fertilize fall-planted pansies again with 19-6-12 in late winter. Sprinkle the fertilizer onto the soil between the plants and water well. This feeding will prolong the flowering period by giving the plants the nutrients they need to grow healthy new stems and buds. Where summers are cool, fertilize pansies again in late summer to encourage a final flush of flowers in the fall.

Pansies vary in their tolerance to cold, so check with your local resources for selections proven hardy in your area. Sometimes plants may be zapped by a sudden hard freeze in the teens, especially if it follows a period of mild weather so the plants have not had a chance to prepare for cold. In this case, you may want to throw a blanket over the plants for protection.




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