Keep It Cool with Pansies

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Don’t let those cute little faces fool you — pansies are tougher than they look —and unafraid of a little cold weather. However, pansies are not tough to grow and offer a lot of cool season color while asking only a little in return. Growing pansies is an easy, early way to start the Spring celebration, and you’re invited!Here’s how…

Start smart.

Pansies actually do best in cooler weather, and therefore are usually planted in Spring or Fall. You can start pansies from seed, but it’s much more convenient to buy bedding plants at your favorite garden center. When you do, choose plants that are compact, bushy and dark green with plenty of buds.

You don’t have to contain yourself.

You can plant pansies directly into flowerbeds in the landscape or in containers. If you’re unfamiliar with container gardening, watch our video. For best results start with a high-quality potting medium, such as Espoma Organic Potting Mix. If flowerbeds are your thing, pansies can go into the ground just as soon as the soil is workable.

Keep it light.

Choose a site with full sun. This keeps them warm when temperatures are cool and helps them produce the colorful blooms they are famous for. Planting in an area with too much shade will hurt the bloom.

Make sure they’re well-grounded.

Pansies are not fussy, but prefer a moist, slightly acidic soil with good drainage. Plant your seedlings about six to eight inches apart and mix in an organic starter plant food into the soil while you are planting. We recommend Espoma Bio-tone® Starter Plus. Later in the season, feed them once again with Espoma Flower-tone®.

A thirst for beauty.

In the Spring, there is typically enough rain to help the plants become well established —about an inch per week. If not, water the plants to make up the difference. NEVER water pansies in late afternoon or evening — this will encourage disease.

Don’t miss mulch.

Mulch around pansies to conserve moisture and reduce weeds; especially if you cut them back in the hottest part of summer. Use a couple of inches of organic material or compost.

Off with their heads.

To extend the bloom, remove old flowers once they fade. This is known as “dead heading.” All good things…
Sorry, but pansies decline with hot weather. You can cut them back and mulch them to keep your hopes alive for Fall. Or, painful as it may be, you can just replace them with summer-flowering annuals. The good news is that you can plant more pansies as the weather cools —probably September. The plants should over-Winter nicely and be there to greet you with smiling faces in Spring.

5 Reasons to Plant Pansies this Spring:

  1. They’re great for beginners
  2. Offer many varieties and colors
  3. Produce wonderful color in cool seasons
  4. Some have a sweet fragrance
  5. Great for containers and flowerbeds

It’s no wonder that pansies have been a favorite for generations. They’re beautiful, versatile and easy to grow. If you follow our simple guidelines, we’re confident that pansies will reward you with the spectacular display of early Spring color you deserve after a long Winter.

Plant Some Pansies to Celebrate Spring’s Arrival

Pansies and violas look delicate but are in fact, tough as nails. They liven up our gardens and decorative pots in early spring and late fall, unfazed by cold weather or even snow. The first and last flowers of the year are the most precious and their “faces” shine even on the grayest days. Treat yourself to these little sunshines.

All pansies are violas but not all violas are pansies. Think of the smaller flowered varieties like the good old Jonny Jump Up as violas and the larger flowered varieties as pansies. Some violas are perennial, but they are mostly used as cool season annuals. Whichever you choose, they’ll provide seasonal color for weeks, and even months on end!

Today’s violets are descended from a European wildflower. In the Victorian language of flowers they were used to convey feelings of love and admiration or “I’m thinking of you.” Sentiments not openly shared in that time. The pansy was also the symbol adopted by the Free Thinkers Society, as the word pansy is from the French verb pensée, meaning to think. Wouldn’t you like to send a secret message to someone special?

Another charm of this family of flowers is that they are edible. In the simplest form, you could float one small flower on top of a cocktail. Decorate cakes and salads with their fresh blooms, add them to herb butters or suspend them in honey or jellies. Just one petal of the larger flowered pansies looks heavenly when garnishing appetizers. They even go with grilled meat. When consuming, it’s always best to use your own organically grown flowers and give them a quick rinse before eating.

Both pansies and violas can be planted in the ground, accentuating the edge of borders or growing up together with your spring bulbs. They are marvelous in containers too. An early season container combination could include a closely planted base of violas with pussy willow branches stuck into the soil between them for height. In the autumn, look for the orange and black varieties for a Halloween theme.

When assembling your container, make sure to use good quality organic potting soil like Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix and feed your container plants once a month with a Espoma’s Bloom! Liquid Fertilizer. This foundation will ensure that your plants have everything they need to thrive and bloom and be safe to eat. If you’re planting your violas in garden beds give them a feeding of Plant-tone, an organic, slow release fertilizer.

Violas and pansies will grow in sun or part shade but will do best with about 5-6 hours of light per day. Pansies will bloom longer if they get late afternoon shade. They don’t really like the heat. They both do best in moist but well-drained soil. In general violas tolerate both cold and heat better than pansies. Deadheading spent flowers is well worth your time and will keep plants flowering longer.

Espoma products for pansies and Violas

Espoma Organic Potting Soil MixBloom! Plant Food


The Secret to Growing Bigger Plants, Faster

Drum roll please! The start of planting season is here!

After long weeks spent pouring over seed catalogs and admiring Pinterest gardens, it’s time to finally create the garden of your dreams.

If you started seeds a few weeks ago, it’s time to gradually move them outside. And if you didn’t, a trip to your local garden center awaits you.

So now that you’re ready, let’s plant your soon-to-be flourishing garden.

How to know if your garden is ready for planting:

To see if the ground is thawed and warm enough for planting, dig 3-4” deep. Grab a handful of soil and roll into a ball. If the soil won’t take shape, it’s too hard and dry for new plants.

If you can make a ball, drop it to the ground. If it breaks, your soil is ready. If the ball stays together, your soil is too wet, so try again in a few days.

Now comes the fun part, deciding what to plant!

Roses, snapdragons and pansies are some of our favorite flowers to plant in early spring. Plus, they add a pop of color when you need it most.

As far as veggies go; plant peas, spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, carrots and onions in early spring. Imagine how much you’ll save on groceries in the upcoming months!

Before you buy your new plants, check the plant tags to make sure you have enough space and sun.

Now time to plant:

If planting a flower bed, mix 4 lbs. (12 cups) of Bio-tone Starter Plus, an organic plant food, per 100 square feet into the top 4-6” of soil.

Adding all-natural, organic plant food enhanced with bacteria is the secret to bigger, better plants of all kinds.

Bio-tone Starter Plus is like a protein shake for your plants. This organic plant food is jam-packed with microbes and mycorrhizae to provide an instant health boost.

Seriously, the proof is in the plants.

Bio tone Starter Plus gives plants everything they need to grow bigger blooms faster. So, you’ll lose fewer plants along the way. You can also add Bio tone when planting bulbs, container gardens, shrubs and even trees. Using this organic plant food on veggies and fruits is a-ok since it’s all natural.

Now, get digging! You can plant in individual holes or a garden bed. Either way, dig holes as deep as the containers the plants came in, and check the plant tag to see how far apart to plant.

Remove plants from containers; loosen roots and pop ‘em in the hole!

Then, replace the soil around the plants and water.

Finally, add the finishing touch of 2-3” mulch — if you haven’t already.

What are you planting this spring? Comment below or better yet, share a picture on our Facebook page!