In spring and autumn, pansies can convince with their flowers. But how are they to be cared for and how do you successfully overwinter them?
Pansies (Viola × wittrockiana ) not only attract attention because of their name. They convince us with their colorful, characteristic flowers, which shine towards us from plant bowls or the bed from March onwards. But despite their imposing appearance, pansies, like almost all members of the violet genus, are incredibly modest and, with the right care, extremely robust. Even winter freezing temperatures are not a problem if proper winter protection is provided.
Properly caring for pansies
In a partially shaded to a sunny spot in the garden or on the terrace, your pansies can loll against the sun and form many colorful flowers. You don’t even have to dig deep into your bag of tricks to do this. Apart from nutrient-rich, water-permeable soil, the robust little plants do not need much to be happy. No wonder that they are among the most popular bedding and balcony plants. If you want to extend the flowering phase, simply clean out withered inflorescences and broken plant parts regularly.
Pansies pour pot
Pansies are extremely sensitive when it comes to waterlogging. If there is too much moisture, the plants are susceptible to root rot or leaf blotch disease. The substrate should therefore never be wet, but always moist. Low-lime rainwater is recommended as irrigation water.
In terms of nutritional requirements, the pansy is quite frugal – so fertilizing is not necessary. It is sufficient to add humus, compost, or a long-term fertilizer to the soil before planting the pansies. This provides a long-term supply of nutrients. Organic long-term fertilizer and releases its nutrients gently and sustainably to the pansies.
Pot plantings are given a light fertilizer every two to four weeks. For this purpose, liquid fertilizer is added to the irrigation water. Instead of using commercially available mineral fertilizers, you can use an organic fertilizer. These are more environmentally friendly and sustainably promote soil life. Organic Gardender organic flower and balcony fertilizer, for example, is an excellent choice. The same applies here: more is not always better. If over-fertilized, pansies tend to grow in length and become infected. In addition, root growth is inhibited.
Summary: Properly care for, water, and fertilize pansies
- Location: sunny to partially shaded
- Soil: rich in nutrients, permeable to water
- Clean up withered inflorescences
- Watering: keep the substrate moist, but not wet; very sensitive to waterlogging
- Fertilizing: Mixing in long-term fertilizers or humus/compost
- Potted plants: Every 2 – 4 weeks liquid fertilizer in the irrigation water
Successfully overwintering pansies
The wild pansy ( Viola tricolor ) is at home in meadows, along roadsides, and on fallow land in Central Europe. The wild form must therefore be able to withstand a bit of snow. She passed this winter hardiness on to her domesticated relatives. Planted in the bed, garden pansies can also tolerate winter temperatures. How hardy the plants are, however, differs from variety to variety.
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But with a few simple steps you can increase the likelihood of successful wintering for each variety:
- October: cut back to just above the ground
- Cover plants with conifer branches, fleece, brushwood, leaves, moss, or bark mulch
- Neither water nor fertilize
- End of February / beginning of March: removal of winter protection
The cover of the plants does not only serve as protection against long periods of frost. It also protects the plants from freezing in snow-free winters. If the root ball is frozen, the plant cannot absorb water. If there is no protection from the winter sun, water will evaporate and the plant will die. Pansies in pots need all-around winter protection.
They are cut back, covered with fleece and the pot is wrapped with fleece or newspaper. The pots are then overwintered in a sheltered, cool place such as the cellar or the gazebo. Covered plants are lightly watered even in winter. There is no fertilization. From the beginning to the end of March, the plants are freed from their comfortably warm sleeping bags.
Note: When snow falls, it should remain on top of the pansy as it acts like a warm blanket.
Growing pansies perennial
The commercially available pansies are annual or biennial plants. After the second year, the little plants have left the flowering phase of their lives behind and cross the threshold of a well-deserved retirement. Beauty is an ephemeral attribute. It is up to you whether the pansies have to give way to younger, more handsome specimens or whether to spend a quiet retirement in a corner of your garden.
For more tips on planting pansy flowers, check out this article.