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How to care for pansy flowers

Updated April 17, 2017

Pansy flowers, also called violas, are known for the distinctive "monkey face" markings on their blooms. These flowers do best in mild and cooler climates. The small plants are often treated as annuals as flower borders and in window boxes, small patio pots or flowerbeds. Pansies are a classic fall and winter flower for the southern states in planting zones six through nine. Pansies that receive at least five hours of sunlight daily will produce more blossoms than shaded plants.

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  1. Plant pansy flowers after the last frost in northern areas of the United States (with extremely cold winters and mild summers). Plant pansies before the first frost of fall in southern states (with mild winters and harsher summers).

  2. If the pansies will be placed in flowerbeds with full sunlight, plant them 6 inches apart to allow for growth. You can plant pansy flowers closer in hanging baskets and flower boxes. Choose baskets and boxes with good drainage to avoid root rot.

  3. Buy other fall flowers and plants to make hanging baskets and flower pots with pansies. Choose ornamental kale, Swiss chard, asters, or decorative pepper plants to add different textures and give colour through the winter.

  4. Give the plants enough time to establish a strong root system before the frost arrives. Plant pansies six to eight weeks before the first frost, whether using patio pots and flower boxes or planting directly into gardens.

  5. Mix fertiliser in the soil before planting. Choose a fertiliser with nitrate nitrogen. Fertilise pansy plants approximately every three to four weeks in a season.

  6. Water pansy plants at least 1 inch a week. During dry weeks, supplement rainfall by watering outside flowerbeds. For patio plants, use bark and moss to top soil and retain moisture. Pour water directly onto the soil, not the leaves or blooms. Water plants in the morning for the best results.

  7. Remove dead pansy blossoms as soon as they turn brown. This will encourage new blooms. Pinch the brown, dead blossoms off as close to the green stem as possible. Use pesticides to eliminate small bugs and spiders on the pansy flowers.

  8. Candy colourful pansy blooms to use in salads or on desserts. Dip the bloom tops in egg whites and then sprinkle with fine sugar. Allow the candied pansy flowers to dry and use them on top of desserts, to accent plates or in salads.

  9. In zones with hot summers, replace pansies with warm-weather annuals when summer comes. Pay attention to how the heat stresses the plants and discard them when they cannot take the temperatures.

  10. Warning

    Do not water overhead because pansies can get fungi on the leaves and flowers. Do not allow the roots to sit in water, which will cause root rot.

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Things You'll Need

  • Pansy plants
  • Rich soil
  • Other fall plants (ornamental cabbage and Swiss chard)
  • Pots, baskets or flower boxes with good drainage
  • Fertiliser with nitrate nitrogen
  • Pesticides

About the Author

Amanda Herron is a photojournalist and writer whose credits include: "Georgia Realtor Magazine," "Jackson Parent Magazine," "Christian Guitarist and Bassist" and the Associated Press. Herron has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in Education from Union University. She is a member of the NPPA and has awards from the Tennessee Press Association and Baptist Press.

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