Smiling faces of spring pansies.
image by turtemom4bacon/Flickr.com
Pansies, a member of the Viola family, are one of the most well-known spring flowers among gardeners. Their bright, smiling faces are a welcome sight after the dull grays and white of the winter. This cool-weather flower is one of the hardiest and easiest to grow. Pansies don't tolerate heat well, but they will sometimes reappear after the summer heat. In the south, gardeners can still enjoy pansies during late winter and early spring. Plant pansies right after the last frost for your area and when the soil is workable.
Purchase pansy plants that are full and bushy. Look for plants with buds but not ones in full bloom. You can grow pansies from seed, but it takes a lot of time and work with no guarantee you will have the plants you want. Young pansy plants are inexpensive and you can see what you're getting, making it more worthwhile.
Choose a location that has full sun and rich, well-draining soil. If you have very heavy, wet soil, amend it with sand, extra compost or peat moss. Or, use containers or raised beds.
Prepare the soil for your plants by adding compost and a general purpose fertilizer. Follow directions on the fertilizer for the amount to use according to the size of your container or flower bed.
Dig holes about 6 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep. Plant the flowers 6 to 12 inches apart. Fill in the soil around the roots and press down firmly.
Water the plants well immediately after planting.
Add a few inches of mulch around the plants to hold in the moisture.
Water every day that it doesn't rain for the first few weeks while the roots are getting established. Keep the soil moist after that by watering every two or three days, depending on how hot or dry it is. Pansies like a lot of water, but they do not like to sit in puddles. Overwatering can cause root rot and leaf drop.
Pinch off fading flowers to promote more budding. Cut back the plants and cover with mulch when the weather starts to get warmer. The blooms may come back in the fall as it starts to get cooler.