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Perky pansies

These faces keep smiling during a mild winter and into spring


Nothing seems to herald the arrival of spring like beautiful garden pansies. This cool-season, annual flower, Viola x wittrockiana, is one of the most popular bedding plants, and rightfully so. The first spring pansies start to arrive in garden centers in our area in late February, and in a cold winter they are a welcome addition to any garden space.

MODERN HYBRID PANSIES COME IN LOTS OF COLORS and color combinations. You can select varieties in a single color, with a blotch of a different color, or with “whiskers” or subtle stripes on the petals. Flower size can range from 1 inch in diameter to 3 or even 4 inches in diameter. Pansy plants can grow from 4 to 8 inches tall and up to 12 inches wide, depending on the variety. Most are fragrant.

PANSIES PREFER TO BE PLANTED IN FULL SUN TO PART SHADE, and do well planted in amended beds and in containers. Keep plants adequately moist for peak performance and fertilize regularly throughout the growing season.

IN A MILD WINTER, PLANTS REMAIN EVERGREEN and flower throughout the winter into spring. Most pansies are root-hardy to 10 degrees when planted in the ground. This means if they are planted in fall or late winter, they may die back to the ground during really cold periods, but will return from the established root system. The smaller the flower, the more tolerant the plant is of cold weather.

A NEW PANSY SERIES, COOL WAVE, has small flowers and a spreading or trailing habit. This series has performed well both in a cold Kentucky winter and when planted in early spring.

Shelly Nold for the February 2017 issue

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