Can I Plant Pansies Now?

Can I Plant Pansies Now?

It’s the beginning of April and we’re all anxious to get outside to see growth and flowers. But on Cape Cod April can be as cold, or even colder than March. We are stuck at the intersection of Winter and Planting Season.

Plants that we can put in containers and in the ground right now are the pansies. Here are some tips for success with these cold weather annuals:

  1. If you are putting pansies in pots and boxes, and want to add summer-flowering annuals in later, be sure to refresh or replace the soil now. Potting mix that was used last year or longer contains old roots and partly broken down organic matter such as peat. Both can cause the mix in containers to be compact and heavy, leading to poor growth and bad drainage.  If you’d like to recycle the mix from your pots, put it in your compost pile, perennial garden or around shrubs and trees.
  2. If you’re planting pansies in the ground, loosen the soil and mix in some time-release fertilizer such as Osmocote. You can also mix in a general organic fertilizer like Flower-tone.
  3. Know that pansies will take a week or two to adjust to “the real world.” They were raised in a greenhouse, so even though they tolerate the cold it will take them a few days to settle in before they produce much growth. Once they’re “hardened off” and adjusted, however, and the soil warms a bit more, they will grow and produce many flowers into June.
  4. Pansies usually stop flowering when it gets hot. On the Cape this usually happens in late-June or July.  Plan on either pulling the plants up once they fade, or relocating them from containers when you want to install your summer annuals.  I often dig the pansies out of the container and plant them between later-flowering perennials. The pansies will go on to flower through June and sometimes they will even self-seed in my perennial garden.

    We love these cheerful flowers – they remind us that the entire season of blooms is just beginning.

    Don’t worry if we get a spring snow shower that covers your pansies. Snow won’t hurt these cold-tolerant plants!

    Other plants you can put in the ground or in containers now are the spring bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, crocus and other bulbs are available in pots at the garden center and they combine nicely with pansies. In early April you can put primroses outdoors, and a bit later in the month Osteospermum and Ranunculus are cool-weather annuals that will survive the temperature swings.

    In late April we begin to get our shipments of perennials. Once you see the perennials outside on display you will know that it’s safe to put these in the ground. Heuchera plants have especially vibrant colors in the spring and these can be used in containers with cool-weather annuals, then planted into the garden in late-May.

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