There's a perfect time of year to plant pansies in your garden or yard, and the time is now.
"Generally, you want to wait until the first or second week of October, when the nights are cooler, so now is absolutely the perfect time to plant them," Master Gardener Jennie Addie said.
And if you're not sure what types to plant, then you have quite a decision to make.
"There are hundreds of new varieties," Addie said. "In fact, many of the old, original types of pansies are no longer available."
In addition to new colors and bloom sizes, pansies have been altered to improve their performance and vitality.
"The new varieties have been bred to stand and hold their heads back," Addie explained. "Many of the original varieties could not withstand the morning dew or a heavy rain. Their heads would just drop."
Two types to consider are the Johnny Jump Up and Violas.
"They tend to hold up better and will even cascade," Addie said. "These pansies are also great for containers."
When selecting pansies, carefully consider what type of look you are trying to achieve.
"Many gardeners tend to choose the varieties with big faces," Addie said. "This type will give you fewer but larger blooms."
After choosing which type to plant, the best thing to do is "amend your soil," Addie advises.
"This is important to do every time that you plant a new crop of plants, because other plants have used the nutrients of the soil," she said.
Planting in amended soil also will "get the roots established before winter arrives, and they will be more protected against the cold," she said. "Be sure to add some osmocote to the base of the soil. Pansies are heavy feeders and will benefit from the nutritional boost."
Using a soluble fertilizer after the first few weeks of planting will help establish a good root system.
"Pansies are also wonderful, because they can take quite a bit of cold and they're a self-cleaning plant," she said.
The plants generally do not require deadheading, other than after a frost.
When setting them out, plant the pansies about six inches to eight inches apart.
With your pansies in place, get ready to watch them bloom in February through late April.
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