Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Planting Pansies and Violas

When to plant pansies in Michigan? 

Once winter earth's totally thawed and the soil's less saturated, pansies can be safely planted.  Mid April is normally safe for cold hardy planting in Michigan. 

Before planting, harden pansies off by exposing seedlings to cold temps in short doses--bringing them back into a sheltered, but cool garage or shed at night.

Repeat for two or three cycles. 

A brief dip below freezing's not fatal; droopy plants will perk back up in the afternoon sun. If it's an unusually long snap beyond two days, tip a plastic pot over the new shoots.

Pansies require little attention.  Once the ground thaws, pansies and their miniature counterparts, violas (a/k/a johnny jump ups), can be safely planted.  Be certain the area's well drained.  Spring rains can drown gentle roots.   
Delicate violas made the cut for the antique fountain planter now situated outside the front door.  Unfortunately the lower level was exactly at the right level to serve as a buffet to the nocturnal deer
who tiptoe in while Ralph's fast asleep.  They only ate the blooms, leaving the roots to be replanted.  Sort of a living salad.

I'd left the blooms on so we could enjoy a pop of color after a late winter, but truthfully, the deer trimming will result in bushier plants with more blooms in a few weeks.  That's provided Ralph manages to keep Bambi at bay.

A shot of fertilizer is helpful in mid May, but not necessary.  Around Father's Day the plants will get leggy and the heat will reduce blooms.

Pansies and Viola are cold hardy plants.  Once the temperature is consistently above the mid seventies, they will begin to falter.  Those planted in the shade will thrive longer, but rarely bloom past July 4th. 

To preserve, cut back and move to a cooler, shaded location.  Provided it's not a blistering hot summer, pansies will rebloom late in the fall. 

Better yet, after a mild winter, or one with consistent snowfall, pansies and violas will reappear in the Spring. 

There are no semi-annuals which provide such a variety of color and contrast. 

More Articles of Interest:

Hey, Look What Survived the Winter in my Garden?

Hydrangea -- From Annabelle to Forever and Ever

Your Bleedin' Heart