COLUMN: Pansies are easy to grow, beautiful blooms – Rome Sentinel


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What’s not to like about pansies? Their cheerful appearance, colorful flowers, and subtle scent combined with their ability to handle cold weather make it a wonderful garden plant.
The blooms are edible, if you garden organically, and they make colorful food garnishes. The pansy is descended from the Johnny jump-up flower.
Through the crossbreeding efforts of 19th century Victorian gardeners, there are over 400 pansy hybrids today. Plants are popular in the landscape as well as containers and window boxes.
Care for pansies
This plant is easy to grow. You can find pansies in your favorite garden center; however, the plants are also easy to start from seed directly in the garden once soil is workable or into containers. Follow instructions on the seed packet. In the garden, pansies prefer well-drained soil rich in organic matter such as compost.
You can grow them in full sun to part shade; some afternoon shade is better for this plant as spring temperatures rise. Too much shade will result in fewer flowers. Space plants in the garden about 7 to 12 inches apart. Pansies don’t need a lot of fertilizer. However, plants grown in containers will benefit from a general purpose fertilizer to promote more blooming. Remove faded flowers to encourage more blooms.
Pansies through the gardening seasons
Pansies are great because they are one of the first flowering plants you can place on your steps or on the porch. They can survive a light spring frost.
The problem with pansies is the heat of the summer. High temperatures cause them to become leggy and pale and the plants don’t flower as much. You can replace them with other annuals, but pansies can be cut back and mulched in the summer to await the cooler fall temperatures. You’ll be rewarded with a second flush of flowers in fall; and since these plants can have perennial tendencies if left to self-sow, you may even be rewarded with more pansies next year!
Containerized pansies may survive over winter if you bring the container indoors in an unheated garage or shed; check on them over the winter to see if they need water and you may have pansies again next spring! Because this plant can be so resilient, you can find pansies for sale in the spring and again in the fall. If you plant in the fall, just add some straw or evergreen boughs as mulch over the plants before the winter and you just may see these plants again the following spring.
Very few pests bother pansies. Slugs can be a problem in the garden if the season is too wet. Once you see pansies in your favorite garden center, you will be hooked! There are so many color combinations. Some people think pansy flowers resemble happy faces.
Consider mixing pansies in with your spring flowering bulbs. The plants look great when paired with cool-loving plants such as ornamental kale or the annual bedding plant sweet alyssum. Use them in containers on your porch, patio, or steps. The pansy is considered the plant of thoughtfulness or remembrance. That makes pansies a great gift plant.
I strongly recommend you give in to the tempting displays of pansies and add some to your garden this year!
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