Anyone who thinks pansies are delicate little flowers is mistaken. They are some of the toughest flowers out there, able to take a beating all winter and then come out swinging with the first crack of spring.
Pansies are hybrids in the viola family. They're short-lived perennials, but most people treat them as annuals. It's best to plant them in the fall, so they can establish themselves and put out some flowers before winter arrives.
Many times, pansies will flower through the winter, but a harsh winter will batter them. They can look pretty sad during the coldest of times, but they're just saving their energy, and at the first sign of warm weather they will come back to life.
They will grow well through the spring, and eventually burn out with the heat of summer.
There are many varieties of pansies, with varying size, color, and hardiness. Small to medium sized varieties tend to overwinter better, but some of the newer large varieties are much hardier than they used to be. It's best to consult an expert in our garden center to find the best match for your garden.
As far as planting goes, there are a few things to consider. You'll want to make sure there is good drainage, but that the soil will retain some moisture. If your bed tends to be soggy, adding some sand might be a good idea.
A layer of mulch on top of the soil will help retain moisture and insulate the roots.
It also helps to consider where the sun is during the winter, which is to the south. If you wish to plant pansies for the winter along the north side of your house, give them some room, so they have a chance to get a little sunlight.
If you want to get really creative, you can plant your pansies on top of spring flowering bulbs, leaving you a nice, multicolored display when spring comes around.
You can also plant different varieties of pansies together to mix up the colors, or plant large swaths of the same variety for block of vibrant color in the spring. Plant them 6-8" apart to give them some room to grow, and remove spent flowers to encourage new ones. Enjoy!
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- Cut back perennials and rake area around them; leaving diseased or insect-laden foliage can cause problems next year.
- Weed all areas and dispose of them in the trash (not the compost
pile) to discourage weeds in the future.
- When your annual plants have died back remove them. Add compost,
manure, lime and gypsum to the bed to enrich the soil for next year.
- Edge the grass along planting beds--one less thing to do next
- Plant early-spring flowering bulbs. Plant them in groupings instead of rows; not only does it look more natural, but they will be less susceptible to wind damage.
- Remove all faded flowers from plants like roses and hydrangeas, rake up all leaves and tie up the branches. This will help protect your
plants from snow damage.
- Thin out about 1/3 of the oldest branches of flowering shrubs like
forsythia, lilac, spiraea and potentilla to promote better bloom and
a nicer shape next spring.
- Dig up tender bulbs, tubers and corms such as dahlias, canna lilies, caladium and gladiolus. It's a good idea to label them as to
type, color and height to make your life easier when replanting them
next spring. Sprinkle them with a rose and flower garden dust to
discourage insects. Store them where they will not freeze in paper
bags or boxes.
- Collect leaves to shred and add to the compost pile (if you don't
already have a pile, now is a great time to start one).
- Clean up all fallen fruits to reduce disease and pest problems.
- Work weed-free steer manure or compost into asparagus beds.
- Dig up geraniums and bring them indoors for the winter.
- Clean birdbaths, fountains and clay and ceramic pots and move them
to a protected place for the winter.
- Move any garden statuary, garden signs and other patio decorations
to a protected place for the winter.
- Clean out your vegetable garden, disposing of all plants, weeds and
old veggies. For a great source of organic material next spring,
plant winter rye in the cleaned vegetable garden. In April, simply
cut the grass then till the remaining grass and roots into the soil!
- Start some pots of paper white narcissus for holiday forcing. They
make great hostess gifts!
- Fertilize the lawn one last time to prepare it for the upcoming
- If you are decorating with pumpkins, rub a little Vicks on them--this keeps the squirrels and chipmunks from feasting on them.
- Indian corn used as fall decorations can be protected from blue jays
by simply spraying with shellac or hair spray.
- Drain hoses of water, coil them and tie them together to prevent
them from being filled with ice.
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