How To Grow And Care For Pansies

Tips and instructions on how to grow and care for Pansies - low maintenance cool weather flowers. They are available in many colors, and may be planted in window boxes, pots or flowerbeds.

In cold climates, the sight of pansies in a pot on the front porch is a sign that spring has truly arrived. Residents of warmer climates are not deprived of pansies, but must enjoy these cool weather flowers in the late winter and early spring.

Pansies are available in a number of colors, primarily in the purple and yellow families. Some pansies are solid in color, whereas others have dark markings resembling a "face" in the center. The leaves are dark green in color. Pansies may be enjoyed in pots and window boxes as well as in flowerbeds.

Pansies can be started from seed, or more commonly are purchased as seedlings from a nursery or garden center. If pansies are to be grown from seed, the seeds should be planted indoors 8 to 10 weeks before they are to be transplanted outside. The seeds should be sown in the late summer for fall planting in warm areas. In cooler climates seeds should be sown in late winter for spring planting. The seed should be sown in moistened growing material, and should be covered lightly with soil. Darkness and cool temperatures aid germination, so the seed tray should be covered to keep out light. The seed tray should be kept in a cool location during germination, preferably between 40 degrees and 60 degrees. Germination should occur between two and three weeks after planting.

The seedlings should be transplanted into individual pots when they have 4 to 6 leaves. At this stage of their growth the seedlings require light. If adequate natural light is not available a fluorescent grow light may be used.

Seedlings may be planted outside when daytime temperatures average 60 degrees. The plants will tolerate nighttime temperatures in the 40's. Pansies prefer full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. If the plants do not receive ample sun they will become "leggy" trying to reach the sun.

Pansies that receive adequate sun will grow to heights of 6 to 9 inches, and will spread 9 to 12 inches. To allow for the spread, seedlings should be planted 6 to 12 inches apart, depending upon the size of the variety being planted.

Pansies are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, but prefer rich soil with good drainage. Fertilizer should be introduced to the soil at the time of planting. The roots of the pansies should be moist when planted, and the plants should be watered after planting. Pansies require an inch of water per week, and should be watered whenever rainfall is below the one inch level. Fertilizer should be applied every three to four weeks during the plants' growing season.

Once planted, pansies require little maintenance other than watering and periodic fertilization. If desired, mulch can be applied around the pansies to help conserve moisture and discourage weeds. Dead flowers should be removed from the plants to prevent seed formation and to encourage blooming. If the deadheads are allowed to remain on the plants the plants may self-sow. As pansies are cool weather plants they will start to fade as the hot summer weather approaches. At that point the pansies may be removed and replaced with summer annuals.

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