Planting Pansies and Violas In The Spring And Fall

Planting Pansies and Violas In The Spring And Fall


One of the first signs of spring at your local garden center in the North East and Mid Atlantic is the arrival of flats and pots of spring Pansies and Violas for planting.  After a long, cold winter, gardeners and non gardeners alike crave the warm, rich colors of Pansies and Violas to brighten up the grey skies.

Many people are unsure of the difference between Pansies and Violas.  Generally Pansies have a larger “face”; markings in the center of the flower that often resemble a face. Violas are usually referred to as having a smaller flower but much more of them on a plant compared to Pansies, but with the new breeding by some top growers here and in the UK, Violas have come a long way on flower size.

We personally find Violas to be more vigorous in the garden.  Ours are grown in full sun to fairly heavy open shade and have good success.  They are practically insect and disease free, but watch out for slugs.  Rabbits and Woodchucks never bother my pansies or violas, but understand that deer will eat them. Once established they require watering only during really hot and dry weather.  Plants usually begin to fade by late July and are too ratty to leave in the garden by mid August.

The other big dilemma gardener’s face with these plants is whether to plant them in the fall or the spring.  Most people think that the plants sold in garden centers in the fall are just for the season, like fall mums.  But that is not the case.  We always plant pansies and violas in October and even November for the following season.  Once established, they withstand the coldest, snowiest winter weather and by March or April are already growing and blooming profusely.  The advantage of planting in the fall is a more established plant should hot weather come early.  And they seen to last longer into the season than those planted in the spring. This method works in zones 5, 6 and 7 and we would bet they would winter over as far north as zone 4.

But regardless as to whether you are planting in the spring or fall, Pansies and Violas can’t be beat for range of color, sheer numbers of blooms and ease of culture.  If you haven’t tried them in your garden, you really should.

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