Want a little inexpensive, early season color in your garden? Try pansies. They thrive in cool temperatures, tolerate mild frost and cold nights, and are readily available at your local garden centers.
Pansies, related to the viola family, can be found just about anywhere in the United States throughout the year. In the Midwest, they do well in early spring and again in autumn when daytime temperatures have cooled.
Pansies come in solid and bi-color varieties, with hues including white, yellow, orange, pink, red, purple and blue. They grow well in-ground or in containers and only require watering to stay healthy. Deadhead spent blooms to encourage continued flowering.
If you’re starting pansies from seed indoors, do so about 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date for your area for spring planting. For fall planting, start the seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the end of summer. They should germinate in 10 to 20 days.
After hardening off, plant seedlings about 8 inches apart. Crowded conditions will inhibit bloom production. Incorporate fertilizer into the soil at planting time.
Pansies are sun lovers, so be sure you transplant them to a location that gets plenty of direct sunlight. Well-drained soil is imperative. Add organic matter such as peat or compost to improve drainage if necessary.
In addition to bringing early season color to your garden, pansies are edible and can be used in salads or as decorations on a cake.