Pansies are among the most popular annuals. Coming in a variety of colors and color mixes, they add versatility to garden beds, hanging pots, window boxes and other areas. Pansies can survive light frosts, and most varieties can grow in areas where the temperature does not drop below -30 degrees Fahrenheit--all but the very coldest regions in the northern United States. Gardening pansies becomes easy once you know how to create the right environment to foster growth.
Choose an area to plant your pansies with full sun and well-drained soil. Pansies grow best in loamy soil with a pH between 5.4 and 5.8, but will survive in most types of soil as long as they are well-drained. Work the soil 9 to 12 inches deep with a spade, breaking up clumps of dirt and removing rocks. Mix a 2-inch layer of organic compost into the soil before planting. Incorporate lime if you need to lower the pH.
Plant pansy seeds 1/8 inch into the soil in July or August. Keep them moist until they begin to take root and grow in five to eight days. You may also choose to plant pansy seedlings or mature plants. In this case, dig holes with a trowel for each plant, placing them 7 to 12 inches apart. Put the plants in the holes, with the tops of the root balls slightly above soil level. Backfill the soil and tamp it down lightly around the plants.
Water the pansy plants to a depth of about 1 inch a week. Allow the soil to dry out in between watering. Water the flowers right before they wilt. As the plants are susceptible to root rot, do not overwater. Water in the morning and avoid getting the flowers and leaves too wet.
Apply a complete all-purpose fertilizer about a week after planting. If you planted seeds, allow them to mature before fertilizing. Follow the directions on the package for application instructions. During the spring and summer growing season, apply fertilizer every three to four weeks.
Deadhead flowers by pinching them off. This will prolong blooming and prevent seeding and spread.
Place a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the plants right before the first frost to protect them from severe temperature fluctuation. If you wish to keep them until spring, they will survive the winter.