As we get in to some cooler weather, I always get to thinking about fall flowers and how they add a little bit of color and life back to the garden after the long heat of summer.
Pansies are a wonderful way to add color to your landscaping, and they can withstand the cold weather providing color throughout winter and even into springtime.
With a track record like that, it is no wonder that the pansy is the most planted flower in the fall.
Pansies can be found in every color of the rainbow with different patterns from solid to those with "faces."
Pansies perform well when nighttime temperatures get down to 65 degrees or below. Now is the best time to plant them because temperatures are cooler, but soil temperatures are still warm enough to encourage the flowers to establish a healthy root system.
Pansies come in a variety of bloom sizes, ranging from large blooms that are 3 1/2 inches to 4 1/2 inches.
Medium size blooms run 2 1/2 inches to 3 1/2 inches. The small, or multiflora, bloom sizes run 1 1/2 inches to 2 1/2 inches.
The smaller-sized blooming pansies tend to tolerate heat and adverse growing conditions better than the larger varieties. Some pansies that grow well in Georgia include the Springtime Yellow Blotch, Universal Plus Yellow Blotch, Happy White Face and Imperial Pink Shades.
If your soil is typical of Hall County, a bed of pansies will grow much better if you do a good job in preparing the flower bed.
Choose a spot that has well-drained soil and incorporate 4 to 6 inches of organic matter like peat moss, compost or rotted manure in to the bed.
Pull a soil sample to know exactly how much fertilizer and lime to add to your soil to optimize growth. Typically though, pansies like a soil that is relatively low in pH and they do not require a lot of fertilizer.
Once you get your bed planted add a good layer of mulch to insulate them from the heat during the early fall and keep them protected from the extreme cold during the dead of winter.
Keep them well watered for the first few weeks while they get established, and lightly fertilize them periodically to encourage strong growth.
If you have limited space, use a container for your pansies. They really can add to a back patio or a front door.
Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.