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IT'S PANSY TIME!

The common pansies we see in our area are referred to as garden pansies. They are very short- lived perennials, treated as annuals, which have faintly scented or unscented flowers, more or less round, often with patterned "faces." Pansies do well in containers or in flower beds. They come in single colors, bicolor, and tricolor, with choices including red, white, yellow, peach, cream, orange, pink, blue, lavender, purple, mahogany, and almost black. Flowers range from 2 to 7 inches across and plants grow from 4 to 9 inches high and wide. Pansies need cool weather, well-drained soil, and full sun to partial shade.

Pansies can be prone to downy mildew, powdery mildew, crown and root rot. Slugs, snails and aphids are common pests. These potential problems are relatively minor and controllable with good gardening practices and, as a last resort, judicious use of chemicals.

With our mild winters you can set out pansy transplants now for fall through spring color. They will stop blooming in extremely cold spells but soon bounce back. If you prefer to wait until early spring, set out nursery plants several weeks before our expected last frost (usually mid- March) or you can sow seeds indoors at 65 to 70 degrees F., 10 to 12 weeks before last frost.

Linda Whetsell, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service


PANSY TIME

The pansy is a beautiful hybrid annual that most gardeners enjoy having in their flower gardens during the winter months in East Texas. These cheerful flowers are very hardy and can withstand temperatures as low as ten to twenty degrees. They like being planted in a nice sunny spot, but they will tolerate some shade. You should spread pine bark mulch around your plants to keep their roots protected and the soil moist, and it is wise to fertile the plants once a month with a balanced fertilizer.

Pansies continue blooming until hot weather arrives. They will not do well in the heat of summer. To keep new buds and blooms on the plants, you should pinch off the blooms that have died back.

Pansies are in the Violaceae family; their scientific name is Viola x wittrockiana. These lovely little plants originated in Europe, and the name pansy derives from the past participial form of the French word penser, meaning "thought or memory."

Did you know that pansies are edible? You can decorate cakes with the colorful blooms, and you can put them in salads. Each variety has a different flavor. Before eating them, though, make sure that the flowers haven't been sprayed with any chemical pesticides.

Pansies are generally easy to grow, but slugs seem to love them as much as we do. Use slug bait in your flowerbeds if you see signs of these pests. One sign of a slug problem is the slimy trail that they leave; another is shriveled-up leaves and petals.

When the skies turn gray and the air becomes nippy, it's time to head for your local nursery and pick out some of these wonderfully uplifting flowers. Pansies will brighten up your winter.

Judy Welsh, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service


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