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Plant of the Week: Pansy

Viola x wittrockiana

Plant of the Week: Pansy

Nothing brightens up a cold winter day in the garden quite like Pansies. This gardeners’ cool weather staple come in a variety of colors, both combinations and solids so you are sure to find a combination that appeals to you. It’s almost like painting the garden with flowers when using Pansies. The cheery-faced bloomers will make you smile even on the dreariest of cold days. Here is how to grow them.

Plant Characteristics: Pansies, when healthy, will have dark green foliage and a tight growth habit. The plant can spread out up to 20 inches in diameter and get up to 8 inches in height, mounding. The blooms can be almost any color in the spectrum and range from 1 inch across to 3 inches across. The more popular lines are Matrix, Crystal, Mammoth, and Majestic Giants. Pansies are considered annuals in our climate so we replace them with heat loving annuals when the weather warms up. They adore cooler weather here, so we plant them in late fall and let them “melt” away in late spring. No part of this plant is toxic to animals.

Plant Care: The first thing to note when planting Pansies is to try to get them in the ground or in your pot when the ground temperature drops to 70 degrees or lower. They will flourish when temperatures are between 40 and 70 degrees. In our zone (8b) the timeline I recommend to plant Pansies initially is mid-October into November. After that, you can replace as needed after freezes or if a late heat sets in and they stretch out and begin to look ratty. When watering, err on the dry side but try to keep the soil evenly moist if possible. The soil should be well drained with about 25% organic material incorporated into the soil. Especially during the winter months, you should manually check the soil to be sure it’s not staying too wet. They enjoy full sun, so pick a sunny spot in your garden to plant them. When planting Pansies, you can put a little bone and blood meal in each hole to fertilize them and give them a good start. Afterwards, you can use a liquid fertilizer about every 2 weeks to keep them blooming and healthy.

Uses: Pansies can be used as borders, in mass plantings for bursts of bright color, or in those pesky blank pockets as fill in color. They can be used in containers and pots as upright color or you can choose the ‘Wave’ Series to spill out of a pot or trail along the ground. Use Crotons, Foxglove or Dianthus as a “thriller” in the pot for added depth and dimension.

No other plant in my mind defines winter color like Pansies. No matter what color you choose, they will brighten up any garden space with some sun. Protect them from hard freezes like we just encountered this week by rinsing them off, or simply replace your plants after a hard freeze. Mine froze in my pots this week like I am sure many of yours did. Replace these plants for fresh color during the rest of winter. We will carry Pansies throughout the winter months so you can always get replacement plants here at Louisiana Nursery. Happy New Year!