By Elaine Simmons
Riotous spring pansies are well served by planning ahead. If you have outdoor window boxes or winter proof pots, plant your pansies in these containers now with fresh potting soil (not topsoil). They will look good this fall, now that the weather has cooled. They will likely “wilt” a bit (and look rather sorry) in the colder months of winter but, unless we have truly bitter cold, these same pansies will normally spring back to life in March or April, earlier and with more vigor than if you plant them in the spring. In this way you get two seasons of enjoyment out of the same plants.
Pansies disdain heat, so the short seasons of fall and early spring are when they flourish in this area. When the pansies get leggy and spent in May or June, you can replace them with annuals that tolerate summer heat. Right now, the nearby garden centers are well stocked with these plants. Brighter solid colors like yellow, orange, or white will “pop” against your house, or try a combo of contrasting colors like purple, yellow, and white. Pinch off spent blooms at the base of the stems to stimulate new flowers.
And don’t throw away the old potting soil! I keep big pots of it in the garage to use in making compost, combining it with vegetable scraps, coffee grounds/filters, tea bags, and dryer lint. After six weeks or so in bin, the depleted old soil is transformed into rich loam.