Now that daytime temperatures are cooling down, perhaps fall has finally arrived. With the arrival of fall also comes the arrival of pansies - one of my favorite winter annuals.
Pansies are popular plants throughout Georgia because of their ability to perk up a garden with instant color and because they are easy to grow.
They are also resistant to many diseases and have a pleasing fragrance. Yellow and blue flowers seem to have the strongest scent.
A big plus with the pansy is the variety of colors.
Pansies can be purchased in almost every color of the rainbow - red, yellow, blue, violet, white, pink and maroon, even some with black flowers! Some have faces or dark blotches in the center.
Pansies also come in a variety of sizes. The large category has blooms that range in size from 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.
Generally, pansies with smaller flowers tolerate heat and adverse growing conditions better than the large flowered types. Some pansies that grow well in Georgia include the following series: Majestic Giant, Crystal Bowl, Imperial, Medallion and Universal.
Pansies are used for color massing, edging, containers and window boxes during the fall, winter and spring. Pansies thrive in cool weather. They will bloom any time that the temperature is above freezing. Their peak bloom is in spring. They fade and should be discarded with the start of hot summer weather.
When choosing pansies from a nursery, select flower colors that suit your garden design. For best results, choose plants that are stocky with dark green foliage and have few blooms but many buds.
Pansies perform much best in the landscape well-prepared beds. Choose a location with well-drained soil. Pansies will not grow well in soil that stays constantly wet.
Incorporate 3 to 4 inches of organic matter, such as garden compost, soil conditioner or well- rotted leaves, into the soil with a shovel or tiller.
Place plants in the holes with the soil surrounding the roots still intact. Cover the plant roots with garden soil and water thoroughly. Mulch around the pansies with 2 inches of organic material to conserve moisture and reduce weed growth. Remove old flowers for longest bloom.
Pansies have many applications in the winter landscape. They add drifts of single-colors to an otherwise dull winter landscape or as a mass planting with several colors mixed together.
Use pansies in a flowerbed with colors appropriate for holidays such as red and white for Christmas.
Pansies also perform well in containers placed on the deck or patio or next to the entrance to your home.
For more information, check out the Clemson Extension publication, Pansies & Johnny Jump-ups.
Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.