Pansies — Plan Now For A Long-Lasting POP of Color!
In Central and South Texas, pansies are indisputably the flower of choice for autumn landscaping projects. These showy superstars feature two main types: clear-faced and monkey-faced. The major trait that separates the two is the dark “blotch” in the middle of each monkey-faced bloom, whereas its “sister-flower”, the clear-faced pansy is “blotch-free.”
In addition to being an excellent option for enhancing beds, this vibrant annual also does well in planters. Because they’re available in a wide assortment of colors including yellow, blue, red, white, maroon and yes, even orange, picking the perfect pansies to accentuate your property can be a daunting task.
A landscaping professional experienced in our sometimes challenging Texas climate will be able to assist you in planning the installation and care of your pansies. A good rule of thumb is that pansies typically require six or more hours of sunlight to perform admirably. Planting time is critical and most have found they achieve the best results when the soil temperature is between 45 and 70 degrees.
In Texas, this can be a little tricky since Mother Nature often throws us a curve-ball with a late summer heat wave. When the soil is above 70 degrees, you’ll wind up with leggy plants, yellowish leaves and fewer flowers. Pansies planted it warmer soil are also more susceptible to frost.
The good news is that pansies can weather temperatures in the single digits and bounce back once warmer weather returns. In order for them to be their most resilient, they must have a chance to develop a strong root system before cold weather hits.
If you’re opting to have someone from your in-house team install pansies, it’s important that they select healthy plants that are compact—not “leggy”. They’ll need to look for pansies with deep green foliage. Also, transplanted pansies that are “leggy” or root-bound in their temporary containers will have a harder time getting established. (Tip: One way to ascertain if this is the case is to pop one of the plants out of its container. If the roots have grown into the bottom of the container, don’t purchase it.) Once planted, it’s a good idea to deadhead the faded blossoms to extend flowering.
There are several garden pests that enjoy munching on pansies. These include slugs, snails and pill bugs, and especially deer in certain areas. Applying slug and snail bait every couple of weeks is one way to keep these insects at bay; aside from fencing, there’s not too much you can do about deer!
Surprisingly, experts say you can protect your pansies during cold weather by temporarily allowing them to wilt. The dry leaves are not damaged by the cold and will recover nicely when warmer temperatures return. The caveat to this would be that if the soil is frozen while dry, with frigid winds blowing across the leaves, the roots of the pansies will be unable to transport water back to its leaves. Adding two-inches of organic mulch during the winter will provide an additional measure of protection for your plants.
In the event a hard freeze is forecast, cover your beds with protective blankets to will hold heat in the soil and shelter pansies from the harsh winds. Also, it’s smart to water down beds and plants thoroughly to protect them before a prolonged cold spell.
Investing in pansies this fall will pay off in stunning “eye-candy” dividends throughout the winter and into early spring. Now’s a great time to meet with your landscaping professional to discuss where and when they can install these hardy, colorful, cool-weather favorites and take your grounds to a breathtaking new level.