Lawn care may be on the downswing, but pansies are just starting! Don’t you just love pansies? What other flower can you plant when everything else is dying? What other flower really gets going when we have freezing temperatures? And snow? Pansies laugh at snow (they probably laugh like “teeheehee.”)
What kind should you buy? Absolutely whatever strikes your fancy! One pansy grows just about the same as the next. I could tell you all about all the different types of pansies, but it doesn’t really matter. Just pick your favorite colors.
How many do you need? How far apart should you space them? This is a pretty good question, and the answer is up to you.
If you space your pansies 12” apart, they’ll take a little time to grow and fill in your garden area, but they’ll still be pretty.
If you space them 4” apart, you’ll have an instant block of color in your garden. However, you’ll also have to buy 3 times as many pansies.
I personally prefer to buy pansies that already have a good start – the larger ones in 2” or 4” pots, rather than the little 6-packs, but you don’t have to. The larger ones just look better sooner, but any pansies will grow well, look terrific all fall, most of the winter, and straight into May!
If we expect a hard freeze, be sure to water your pansies before it freezes, to give them some good insulation. That first hard freeze seems to give them a nice jolt to really start growing, and probably hardens them against the freezing temperatures to come.
Did you know that all pansies are hybrid plants specifically cultivated for garden flowers? They originated from violas, more specifically viola tricolor, an old-fashioned sort of flower, which isn’t nearly as showy as pansies are, but grows as a wildflower in Europe. The pansy is a biennial – a plant that takes 2 years to complete its life cycle. When you buy them at the garden center, they are already in their 2nd year, so they’re sold as annuals. (They do not flower in their first year.) There aren’t many biennials, as compared to annuals and perennials. Other examples of biennials are Sweet William Dwarf and parsley.
Many people eat pansies. The flowers are edible, and you can put them in salads, for a colorful touch. You can – I don’t think I would. I ate nasturtium butter at this French restaurant once. I think flowers are better left in the vase on the table….just saying.