Fall Pansies Hold Promise of Spring

— Written By Donna Teasley and last updated by
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One of the best things about fall is pansies. There is nothing any more enjoyable on a crisp autumn day than planting pansies for next spring. Pansies should be planted when the heat of summer starts to fade but before cold weather is firmly established. They like a rich, well drained soil and full winter sun. They also prefer a thin layer of mulch, but not too deep.

There is no such thing as a fall pansy and a spring pansy. The only difference in these plants is the time of year they are purchased. Pansies perform better when they are planted in the fall. They like a cool growing season and are at their best during the early spring. Root growth takes place all winter and by early spring they are established well enough to make a very showy display. Plants that are set out in the spring do not have a long enough growing period to make a good sized plant before the heat of summer ruins them.

When day temperatures start rising above 75 degrees on a consistent basis, pansy blooms diminish and the plant declines. They should be pulled up and replaced with summer annuals for good summer blooming. Occasionally a few plants will survive the heat, but they will be weak and spindly and not worth the space they are taking from a hardier plant. Pansies should be treated as an annual that just happens to be planted in the fall instead of the spring.

There are many varieties to choose from and whether the traditional pansy faces or the bright solid colors are preferred, there are enough varieties available to suit everyone’s fancy. Stocky, dark green plants should be purchased with few blooms. Any blooms should be pinched off to encourage vegetative and root growth. A slow release 5-10-10 granular fertilizer should be applied at planting and again in the early spring. High nitrogen fertilizers should be avoided because a high concentration of nitrogen in the soil makes the plant more susceptible to root rot. Plants should be watered and then allowed to dry between water applications. Spent blooms should be pinched off to encourage continued blooming.

Try planting pansies in the fall and you will be pleased with the results. Enjoy the glorious blooms in the spring and do not feel guilty about pulling them up when it is time to move into summer.