Saturday, April 6, 2013

Growing Pansies, Virginia Style

Imagine a northerner’s surprise when she first saw Virginia pansies blooming in January snow!  These cool weather lovers don’t seem to notice frost and can be over wintered, with some success, as far north as zone 6.  Yes, these cool weather plants are perfect for adding color to the garden in early fall and winter and then again in spring. 
Pansy blossoms in spring

Here in zone 7, it’s best to plant pansies in the fall, preferably September, so that they can establish their root systems before winter arrives.  Be sure to:

·         Choose healthy, young plants, preferably without any blooms.   They should be compact, not leggy, and have roots that are still white.

·         Choose hardy varieties.  Generally those with medium size blooms are best for over wintering. 

Pansy decorated with snow and ice
Pansies prefer a slightly acidic, well-drained soil with a steady supply of moisture.  At least partial sun is important.  When planting, be sure to:

·         Dig the soil 6 to 8 inches deep and add compost or well-rotted manure.

·         Tease the roots apart to help them spread out and become established in the soil. 

·         Space plants 6 to 8 inches apart and plant them at the same level that they were in their pots.

·         Pat the soil around them and add several inches of mulch.

While they’re tough, pansies are bothered by a number of pests, including slugs, snails, and aphids. 

When blooms increase in spring, pinch off the dead ones and the seed capsules every few days.  And finally, when the weather gets seriously hot and pansies become leggy and sluggish, it’s time to remove them and replace them with summer annuals. 


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