Enjoy pansies for many months

John Young, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.  |  10/31/2008 1:34:12 AM

Sustainable Landscape News Distributed 10/31/08

By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists

Pansies continue to be the most popular cool-season bedding plant in Louisiana. They have long been relied on for their consistent outstanding landscape performance.

Pansies normally are planted in October through November and last through April or early May. They are hardy into the teen temperatures and easily endure typical Louisiana winters, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist John Young.

Many pansy varieties are on the market in a wide choice of colors, including blue, rose, pink, yellow, white, purple, red and scarlet. Flower sizes come in large, medium and small. Some varieties have solid color ("clear") flower petals, and others have blotched flower faces.

“Normally, clear-faced flowers are the most popular for landscape use, but some folks like the colors of the blotched flowers in mixed plantings,” Young said.

Pansies are often used to overplant spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. After the bulbs are planted, carefully plant pansy transplants over them. Make sure the bulbs will bloom tall enough to show over the pansies, and choose pansy colors that will look good with the bulbs when they bloom. Pansies also combine beautifully in mixed plantings with other cool-season bedding plants, such as alyssum, dianthus, ornamental kale, ornamental cabbage and snapdragons.

Young offers several “best management practices” to ensure the desired performance from your pansies through the spring:

– Properly prepare the landscape bed to allow for good internal drainage and aeration.

– Incorporate fresh, nutrient-rich, finished compost into landscape beds to provide nutrients.

– For a traditional fertilizer approach, apply a slow-release fertilizer at planting.

– Make sure landscape beds for pansies have a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.0.

– Select a full-sun planting location in the landscape.

– Although fall is the best time to plant pansies, you can plant them during mild spells through the winter in South Louisiana. Young cautions, however, it is best not to plant pansies after early March because little is left of the growing season.

– Choose varieties having small and medium flowers. These flowers are more weather-resistant and hold up better in the landscape long-term than do varieties with larger flowers.

– Irrigate only when necessary. Overwatering leads to many problems with cool-season bedding plants.

– Mulch pansy plantings to minimize weed problems, conserve soil moisture and keep the soil warmer over the winter.

– Plant pansies in masses of colors for the best visual impact.

– Remove old flowers from plants in the spring to extend the bloom season.

– Consider planting violas. These pansy relatives produce smaller flowers, but the plants tend to be more vigorous. Color impact in the landscape is as high as or higher than pansies, and they tend to hold up better as the weather begins to warm in late spring.

More information on home landscaping from the LSU AgCenter and details on horticulture work at LaHouse can be found at www.lsuagcenter.com and www.louisianahouse.org.

LaHouse is located near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (La. Highway 30) in Baton Rouge across the street from the new LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.louisianahouse.org and www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.

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Contacts:
Dan Gill at (225) 578-2222 or dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu
Allen D. Owings at (985) 543-4125 or aowings@agcenter.lsu.edu
John Young at (225) 578-2415 or (225) 578-2222 or JoYoung@agcenter.lsu.edu

Editor: Mark Claesgens at (225) 578-2939 or mclaesgens@agcenter.lsu.edu

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