There are few flowers more versatile or distinctive to the winter garden than the pansy. Available in just about any colour of the rainbow, their cheery faces are the perfect way to fill your garden with winter mirth.
Pansies can be planted from seed or bought as seedlings, including advanced seedlings that are already in flower. An advantage of the latter is that seeing the blooms first hand can make it easier to select your favourites. Choose seedlings that are bushy and robust and if they are in flower, select the ones with more buds than blooms.
Pansies love cool weather and generally can be planted from March to July. In cooler areas, pansies can also be planted at the end of winter and will flower into spring and early summer. Pansies will bear larger and more brightly coloured blooms as the cool season progresses. When spring arrives and the weather heats up, pansies will go on a natural decline. Their life can be extended by giving them extra water, but don’t expect them to last all year, especially in warm regions. Although they are almost always grown as annuals, pansies are actually short-lived biennials. In some regions, they can be allowed to flower in spring, left in the ground to ‘rest’ over summer until autumn when they can be brought into flower once more. Because pansies flower so prolifically, they usually exhaust themselves in one season. They do however, set seed quite easily and if you’re lucky they can reappear in your garden year after year.
For good flowering, pansies need a sunny position but in warm climates they usually prefer some protection from the hot afternoon sun. In such cases, ensure they have sun for at least half the day. Pansies can get spindly and won’t flower well in full shade.
Pansies have shallow roots which means they can dry out quickly in hot spells, so make sure you keep them moist and well mulched. Mulching also helps insulate the roots and discourages weeds, Searles Premium Garden Mulch is ideal.
Pansies need good nutrition to support their profuse flowering, so feed them fortnightly with Searles Flourish Soluble Plant Food. This excellent fertiliser is specially formulated for boosting blooms and will absorb quickly through the leaves for fast results. For an excellent fertiliser that is fully organic, use SeaMax® Fish & Kelp Liquid Fertiliser.
Preparing the soil
Pansies are not fussy but prefer a loose, rich, well-drained soil, preferably with a slightly acidic pH. For best results, improve the soil with Searles 5IN1 Plus and Searles Complete Plant Food two weeks before planting.
Once established, keep pansies moist and well fed. Regular removal of spent blooms will keep them flowering well; picking a pretty posy every few days can actually keep pansies in good health and vigour!
Growing in pots
Growing from seed
To grow pansies from seed, sow them into plastic punnets or recycled toilet rolls filled with Searles Seed Raising Mix and keep them moist in a cool, well-lit place. They should germinate in about 2 weeks. To conserve moisture, seedling punnets can be wrapped in clear plastic cling wrap. Once seedlings have a few sets of leaves, they can be planted out into pots or garden beds. Keep them moist, especially when young.
Did you know?
Like their cousins the violets and violas, pansies are edible and can make an exciting garnish or addition to fresh garden salads.