Pansies are one of the UK’s all-time favourite winter flowering plants. There’s an enormous range of varieties available in a full spectrum of colours, not to mention all of their face-like markings, different sizes and forms.
Pansies: a brief history
Where do garden pansies originate from? At the beginning of the 19th century, the wildflower named Heartsease was taken up by flower enthusiasts and gardeners.
The trend took off and by the 1830s a myriad of hybrid violas was available. In 1839 the ‘Medora’ pansy, bred by William Thompson, was made available, marked by blocks of colour on the flower petals.
This variety became popular across Britain and then Europe. In the process of this diversification and popularity, the pansy’s petals became fuller, and the face or heart-shaped look of the modern bedding plant emerged.
What are pansies?
There is a wide range of pansies available – trailing, ruffled, giant flowered and the more traditional kinds. You can really let your taste for a colour run riot! You can also go for scented varieties.
Pansies are particularly prized by gardeners as an autumn bedding plant, for flowering in the late winter and early spring, but you can also grow them as part of spring bedding too.
Pansies thrive in cooler weather, however, and can suffer in a mid-summer heatwave. Pansies are compact and low-growing – you can grow them alongside bulbs for a spring display, as well as in a massed bed, in containers or as edging.
When to plant pansies?
For autumn bedding, plant out your plug plants from mid-September to early October, depending on the size of the plants acquired.
For spring bedding, late April to mid-May is the optimum time, depending on the weather conditions.
Grow on plants indoors until they reach 8 to 10 cm in height at which point they’re ready to plant out.
Where to plant pansies?
Pansies prefer full sun or partial shade, and a moist environment. Plant them out in beds, or in containers and baskets. The soil can vary, however, moisture retention is important.
How to plant pansies?
Dig an individual hole for each plant with a trowel, deep enough to comfortably fit the root ball without bending or breaking the roots. Place the plant in the hole and fill it back in, keeping the base of the stem at the soil level. Gently firm down. Water generously and feed regularly.
Plants should be placed 15 cm apart; bear in mind that they will grow to a height of 15 to 25 cm. Use a general-purpose fertiliser when planting out. Once the plants are established, keep the soil moist and mulch to help retain this moisture.
When do pansies flower?
Depending on the autumn weather, pansies may or may not flower throughout the winter. During mild autumn, they will begin to produce flowers which will hold until the spring when new flowers grow and take their place.
Flowers should be pinched off once they have bloomed and have begun to wither – this will extend the flowering period, with new flowers encouraged.
How to prune pansies
If you find that your Pansies aren’t blooming and areas are thick with stem growth, you should prune them. Pruning the thick areas will allow the nutrients to feed the other parts of the plant and produce blooms.
Check your Pansies every six weeks as this will help you discover any growth problems that may need combating and help you detect plants in ill health.
Remove all dropped leaves, blossoms and stems on the ground. Debris can trap moisture, which causes root rot and provides the perfect environment for pests.
Top Tip: Mix Pansies with spring or autumn flowering bulbs for a longer display. The Pansies will provide colour before your bulbs start to bloom.
How to deadhead pansies
Pansies look wonderful in containers and pots, especially outside your front door. To keep them blooming as long as possible you must ‘deadhead’ them. Deadheading is simply removing any faded or diseased blooms…
- Cut off any blooms that are fading or have already faded using shears or scissors. You must cut off the blossom stem just above the first set of leaves.
- Cut off any seed heads that are forming or have formed. Pansies will not produce any more blooms if you let them go to seed.
- Cut off any infected, yellowing blooms do not put them in the compost if they are diseased.
Panies plant care
Pansies are relatively free from disease problems – use slug, snail or aphid deterrents when necessary. If your pansies are growing in containers, fertilise them with soluble compost every fortnight – watch out for the plants growing ‘leggy’ however, as this indicates too much fertiliser.
Ready to create your own eye catching pansies? Take a look at our pansies collection.