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Pansies are the colorful flowers with “faces.” A cool-weather favorite, pansies are great for both spring and fall gardens! Here’s how to plant pansies as well as keep them growing and blooming.

Pansies have heart-shaped, overlapping petals and one of the widest ranges of bright, pretty colors and patterns.

Good for containers, borders, and as ground cover, they are a go-to flower for reliable color almost year-round. Pansies look pretty on their own in a monochrome scheme or in mixed colors; they also look pretty when planted with other cool-season flowers such as violas, primroses, trailing lobelia, and sweet alyssum.

ARE PANSIES ANNUAL OR PERENNIAL FLOWERS? 

The pansy may be treated as either an annual or a perennial, depending on your climate. However, most gardeners treat this plant as an annual because it prefers cool weather and gets too leggy in the heat of summer. There hasn’t been much success in producing heat-tolerant pansies that can adequately survive hot weather.

Pansies are surprisingly hearty in cold weather, though. They’ll survive a frost, bouncing back from even single digit temperatures. If the blooms wither in the cold, the plants will often stay alive to bloom again, which makes them a great flowering plant for fall and early winter color.

Pansies

PLANTING

WHEN TO PLANT PANSIES

  • Pansies can be planted in the early spring or the fall. 
  • Pansies can be finicky to start from seed; it’s a lot easier to buy established plants from a local nursery. Plus, you’ll get blooms a lot sooner.
  • But if you want to seed, start pansy seeds indoors in late winter 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost for early spring and summer flowering. Or, start seeds in late summer for fall and winter flowering. Pansy seeds may be slow to germinate (typically emerging in anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on soil temperature).
  • Set pansy plants in the ground when it becomes workable in the spring. They grow best when soil temperatures are between 45°F and 65°F (7°C and 18°C).
  • Pansies can tolerate a light frost just after planting, but try to hold off on putting them in the ground if temperatures are still regularly reaching well below freezing.

WHERE TO PLANT PANSIES

  • Plant in moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil. See our articles on soil amendments and preparing soil for planting for more information. 
  • Pansies like full or partial sun, but need cooler temperatures to thrive. The ideal planting site will get morning sun but avoid the heat of the late afternoon.
  • Space the plants about 7 to 12 inches apart. They will spread about 9 to 12 inches and grow to be about 6 to 9 inches tall.

Pansies in Pots

  • Pansies are great for containers. Just use potting soil.
  • Plant in portable containers (12 inches or less in diameter) so the plants can be moved to a cooler area when the sun starts to get stronger. Early in the spring season or in the fall, a south-facing patio might be the perfect spot. During the summer, move pansies to the east side of your home for morning sun and afternoon shade.

CARE

HOW TO CARE FOR PANSIES

  • Remember to water pansies regularly. One of the most common reasons pansies fail is because they are not watered enough, so if your pansies are not doing well, try watering them more.
  • You can use a general, all-purpose fertilizer around your pansies to help them grow. Be wary of using a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer, though, as this can result in more foliage instead of flowers.
  • Remove faded/dead flowers to encourage the plants to produce more blooms and to prolong the blooming season.

Reference: Farmer’s Almanac

1. Time for a spring inspection.

On one of the first warm days of spring, put on your inspector’s hat and head out to the garden with a notepad. It’s time to see what happened in the garden while you were indoors all winter. Take note of:

  • Cold, ice or snow damage on plants
  • Beds that will need to be cleaned out
  • Hardscaping elements—walls, fences, benches, sheds, trellises—that have shifted, bowed or rotted
  • Evidence of new animal burrows from skunks, chipmunks, moles and voles, groundhogs or rabbits. Also, note any deer or rodent damage on woody plants.

 

2. Address hardscaping issues first.

In early spring before the ground is ready to be worked, focus your energy on hardscaping. This is the time to repair damaged retaining walls, level out your stepping stones, clean out your gutters, and fix fences, benches, decks, sheds, trellises, window boxes and raised beds. These tasks are easier to accomplish while your plants are still resting safely dormant.

Early spring is also a good time to plan for and build new raised gardens, widen existing ones, and tidy up your beds’ edging. When temperatures allow, add a fresh coat of paint, stain or sealant to any hardscaping elements made of wood.

 

3. Do a thorough spring cleanup.

Ideally just before your spring bulbs start to pop up, clean the plant debris out of your garden beds. This includes fallen branches, matted down leaves, last year’s perennial foliage, ornamental grasses and perennial hibiscus, and any annuals you didn’t remove last fall. Maintaining good hygiene in your garden beds will help to keep pests and diseases at bay.

Now is also a good time to clean out debris from your pond or water feature. While you’re at it, scrub and sterilize your bird bath and containers before setting them back out into the garden. A 1 part bleach/5 parts water solution should take care of any lingering diseases or insect eggs in your containers.    

 

4. Test your garden soil.

Experts recommend testing your garden soil every 3-5 years to see what nutrients or organic materials it needs and which it has too much of. You might learn, for example, that your soil is very high in phosphorous, so you would avoid adding fertilizers that contain a lot of it. Or you might find out your soil is naturally alkaline, and need to add aluminum sulfate around your evergreens and acid-loving shrubs like hydrangeas. Detailed instructions on how to collect and submit your soil sample is available on your state’s Extension Service website.    

 

5. Feed your soil.

Once you know what your garden soil needs based on your test results, talk with someone at your local garden center about which specific products to use, always following package instructions for best results.

A good general practice is to topdress the soil with an inch or two of compost, humus and/or manure in early spring just before or as your bulbs are starting to emerge. That’s also a good time to sprinkle an organic slow release plant food like Espoma’s Plant-tone or Rose-tone around your perennials and shrubs. Earthworms and other garden creatures will do the job of working these organic materials down into the soil for you.

 

6. Get out a sharp pair of pruners.

Spring is a good time to prune some kinds of woody shrubs and trees. We’ve created a detailed guide for you to follow here: Pruning Demystified. Here are a few highlights:

  • Start by pruning out anything that has been broken or damaged by winter ice, snow and cold. Remove dead wood, too. 
  • Follow the general rule that flowering shrubs which bloom on new wood (this year’s growth) can be trimmed in spring. This includes summer flowering shrubs like butterfly bushsmooth hydrangea (H. arborescens)panicle hydrangea (H. paniculata)potentillarose of Sharon, and roses. Their flower buds will be set on the new flush of growth that appears after you prune it.
  • Spring is also a good time to shear back evergreens like boxwood and arborvitae once their initial flush of new growth has finished emerging.
  • DO NOT prune early flowering shrubs and those that bloom on old wood (last year’s stems) like azaleaforsythialilacquinceninebark and weigela in spring. If you do, you’ll risk cutting off this year’s flower buds. You might not be able to see them, but they are there, so resist the urge to prune.    

 

7. Divide perennials and transplant shrubs.

In early spring when they are just beginning to pop up, divide and transplant any perennials that have outgrown their space or grown large enough to split, if desired. In most cases, it’s best to divide and move perennials in the opposite season of when they bloom. That means moving summer and fall blooming perennials in spring, and spring blooming perennials in fall. This avoids disrupting their bloom cycle.

Evergreen shrubs can be moved in early spring before their new growth appears or in early fall to give them enough time to re-establish their roots before winter. Deciduous shrubs can be moved almost anytime they are not in bloom and the weather is mild, but generally spring and fall are the preferred seasons for transplanting. If you move them while they are dormant, there will be less stress on the plants and they will be more likely to spring back into action quickly.     

 

8. Put out any necessary supports like trellises and stakes.

If you’ve brought a trellis into the garage or shed for winter, early spring is a good time to bring it back out into the garden. Make sure it’s sturdy and apply a fresh coat of paint if needed before using it again. If you grow peonies, delphiniums, or any other perennials that require support, set them out now or get them ready to go. Trying to wrangle tender peony stems into a peony ring is tough work once their leaves have unfurled.

 

9. Plant your spring containers and borders.

Though most annual flowers need the soil to warm up a bit before planting, some cool weather loving plants like pansiesnemesia, and osteospermum daisies won’t mind if you plant them in the garden early. Fill your spring containers with sweet alyssumlobelia and Supertunia petunias, too. You’ll find six solutions for cool weather plantings in this article. For most other annuals, it’s a good idea to wait until your area’s last frost date to plant. Your local Extension Service website lists that date on their website.  

 

10. Be ready to take cover if freezing temperatures are in the forecast.

If you garden in an area where late spring frosts and freezes are a possibility, be prepared to cover up plants that have tender emerging buds or foliage if freezing temps are in the forecast. If the buds haven’t begun to open yet, there’s no need to cover them.

Old sheets and towels that have been relegated to the rag pile are a good option, and professional row cover is available for purchase, too. DO NOT cover tender plants with plastic sheeting or tarps. The effect of the plastic touching the newly emerging buds and foliage will magnify the cold’s effect, rather than mitigate it.   

Article courtesy of Proven Winners

Many of the most common kinds have edible leaves or roots, like lettuce, carrots and onions.

With spring around the corner, a gardener can get a bit anxious to start planting. But not all vegetables are as eager to get into the cool ground and start growing. Luckily, there are cool season crops that tend to thrive in the chill of an early spring, and again, in late summer, early fall.

Many of the most common kinds have edible leaves or roots, like lettuce, carrots and onions. Others produce edible seeds, like peas and certain types of beans. And still other cool weather thrivers are artichokes, broccoli and cauliflower. Most of these can even endure short periods of frost. In fact with a cool-weather vegetable like kale, frost on the leaves can make them even sweeter.

To get a head-start on maturity with many cool season plants, start with young, vigorous plants. Most root vegetables (such as carrots and radishes), however, will need to be grown from seed.

These cool-weather plants also grow well in containers, which can make it easier for gardeners, especially if the early-spring ground is still a bit difficult to tend. In fact, plants like lettuce and carrots and peas are excellent vegetables for first-time growers or gardeners with limited space.

Specific Vegetable Varieties to Choose

More specifically, horticulturists tend to break down cool weather vegetables into types, or categories. One such description is “hardy” or “semi-hardy” vegetables. Hardy vegetables can tolerate harder frosts and temperatures in the low 20’s. Semi-hardy vegetables will tolerate light frosts and temperatures in the high 20’s and low 30’s. Here’s a partial list of plants within each category:

Hardy vegetables: broccoli*, Brussels sprouts*, cabbage*, collards*, English peas*, kale*, kohlrabi*, leeks*, mustard greens*, radishes*, spinach*, turnips

Semi-hardy vegetables: beets, carrots, cauliflower*, celery*, Chinese cabbage*, endive, Irish potatoes, lettuce*, radicchio, rutabaga*, Swiss chard*

Early Spring, a Perfect Planting Time

Yes, it can get cold in early spring–a little frost, a few snowflakes. But that doesn’t have to lessen an early harvest. In fact, the cooler temperatures in the spring have fewer pests around to bother gardeners or damage plants.

Whether a novice grower or an experienced gardener, cool crop growing is an enjoyable and bountiful way to extend the season. And that means more meals on your table with fresh, delicious vegetables from your garden.

Article Courtesy of Miracle-Gro

The fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) is a popular indoor specimen plant featuring very large, heavily veined, violin-shaped leaves that grow upright. These plants are native to tropical parts of Africa, where they thrive in very warm and wet conditions. This makes them somewhat challenging for the home grower, who is likely to have trouble duplicating these steamy conditions. However, they are relatively tough plants that can withstand a less-than-perfect environment for a fairly long time.

Fiddle-leaf figs are perfect as focal points of a room if you can situate them in a floor-standing container where the plant is allowed to grow to at least 6 feet. (Most indoor specimens reach around 10 feet tall.) They’re fairly fast growers and can be potted at any point in the year if you’re like most gardeners acquiring a nursery plant to keep indoors.

Botanical Name Ficus lyrata
Common Name Fiddle-leaf fig, banjo fig
Plant Type Broadleaf evergreen
Mature Size 50 feet tall (outdoors), 10 feet tall (indoors)
Sun Exposure Part shade
Soil Type Loamy, medium moisture, well-draining

Fiddle-Leaf Fig Care
Fiddle-leaf figs are not especially demanding plants as long as you can get their growing conditions right. When grown as a houseplant, be prepared to rotate your fiddle-leaf fig every few days so a different part faces the light source. That way, it will grow evenly, rather than lean toward the light.

Also, every week or two dust the leaves with a damp cloth. Not only does this make the leaves appear shinier and more appealing, but it also allows more sunlight to hit the leaves for photosynthesis. Moreover, you can trim off any damaged or dead leaves as they arise, as they no longer benefit the plant. And if you wish, you can prune off the top of the main stem for a bushier growth habit.

Light
Fiddle-leaf figs require bright, filtered light to grow and look their best. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves, especially exposure to hot afternoon sun. And plants that are kept in very low light conditions will fail to grow rapidly.

Soil
Any quality indoor plant potting mix should be suitable for a fiddle-leaf fig. Ensure that the soil drains well.

Water
Fiddle-leaf figs like a moderate amount of moisture in the soil. If the plant doesn’t get enough water, its leaves will wilt and lose their bright green color. And if it gets too much water, the plant might drop its leaves and suffer from root rot, which ultimately can kill it. During the growing season (spring to fall), water your fiddle-leaf fig when the top inch of soil feels dry. And over the winter months, water slightly less.

Furthermore, these plants are sensitive to high salt levels in the soil. So it’s ideal to flush the soil until water comes out the bottom of the pot at least monthly. This helps to prevent salt build-up.

Temperature and Humidity
Fiddle-leaf figs don’t like extreme temperature fluctuations. A room that’s between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit is typically fine, though you must position the plant away from drafty areas, as well as air-conditioning and heating vents. These can cause sudden temperature shifts.

Aim for a humidity level between 30% and 65%. If you need to supplement humidity, mist your plant with clean water in a spray bottle daily. Or you can place it on a tray of pebbles filled with water, as long as the bottom of the pot isn’t touching the water. Plus, fiddle-leaf figs can benefit from being in a room with a humidifier.

Hoya have been popular house plants for decades and with good reason. They are extremely long-lived, have a classic, deep green, vining foliage and produce fragrant, light pink and red star-shaped flowers. Because of their thick waxy, foliage they are often called wax plants or sometimes porcelain flower referring to the unique texture of the flowers.

These tropical vining plants have a few requirements in order to thrive but nothing too hard. Give them bright, indirect light, humidity and a light touch when it comes to watering. Use a potting mix that allows for good air circulation around the roots. Read on for the best recipe for success.

Light

Select a place that gets bright, indirect light. Don’t let their waxy foliage fool you. They are not succulents and can’t take harsh afternoon light. They will grow in lower light situations but it’s unlikely they will bloom. 

Soil and Repotting

Potting soil with good air circulation is very important for Hoya. To create a perfect blend mix equal parts of Espoma’s organic Cactus MixOrchid Mix, and Perlite. Hoya like to be pot-bound or crowded in their pots. They will only need to be repotted every two or three years.

Water

Water regularly with room-temperature water, spring through summer. Let the top layer of soil dry between watering. In the fall and winter growth naturally slows down and they won’t use as much water. Water sparingly during fall and winter, give them just enough that the soil doesn’t dry out completely. Too much water can cause flowers to drop.

Humidity 

Hoya are tropical plants that thrive in humid conditions. Use a humidifier to bring the humidity levels up, especially in winter when indoor air tends to be dry. A saucer with gravel and water also provides humidity as the water evaporates. Misting with room-temperature water also helps but avoid spraying the flowers.

Temperature

Keep the room temperature warm year-round, try not to let it drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also best to keep plants from touching cold windows and away from heating and cooling vents.

Pruning

Prune in spring before vigorous growth begins. The stems with no leaves are called spurs and shouldn’t be removed. Flowers are produced on the same spurs year after year. Hoya are vining plants that will happily cascade from a shelf or window sill. Conversely, they are often trained onto trellises that are either vertical or circular, giving the impression of a more robust plant.

Thanks to Espoma.com for care tips

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Starting plants from seeds is a fun and easy way to stretch those gardening dollars. Whether you are interested in annuals, perennials, herbs or vegetables you’ll find a great selection of seeds to start prior to planting out this spring. Of course you can also sow seeds directly into your garden beds. When you consider that a typical seed pack will contain upwards of one hundred seeds there is no better ‘bang for the buck’.

To sow seeds indoors you will just need a seed starting mix, seed box and tray. Most seed starting kits come complete with these items and a plastic cover to complete your own mini ‘greenhouse’. You will just need to sow the seeds thinly and evenly throughout the seed packs – usually just two to three seeds per cell. Press the seeds into the surface of the soil and cover with a thin layer of fine peat or soil. Next water gently and cover with your plastic cover to retain humidity until the seeds have sprouted, the remove the cover and allow air to circulate. Most seeds will germinate in about two weeks, but you can speed up the process with bottom heat. You can thin out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough that the leaves touch. You will need to time the process back from a couple of weeks past the last scheduled frost date. You can ‘harden’ off your seedlings in a cool, but not cold garage or breezeway to acclimate the seedlings prior to planting.

You can follow this process for just about all seeds, with the exception of some of the larger vegetable varieties that are sensitive to transplant shock. It is a good idea to start larger plants directly into larger pots or ‘peat pots’ that will require the amount of transplanting. You should always follow the instructions on the seed package to determine specific care instructions as well as the time need for germination and development.

Of course you can also sow seeds directly into the garden soil. You would be amazed at how you can add dozens of new plants from a single package of seeds. Mixing and matching the varieties can help you create specific gardens such as those that attract butterflies, or if you are ‘naturalizing’ a portion of your home landscape. 

Some of the easiest plants to grow from seeds are annuals, especially those that ‘self-sow’, or grow from seeds they sow themselves. A few good examples are Alyssum, Calendula, Cosmos, Larkspurs, Nicotiana and even Impatiens! You just need to remember to leave some seed heads to fall onto ‘receptive ground’. Receptive ground is nothing more than friable soil that is raked out and free of weeds, stones and debris.

Nothing is more fun that starting seeds in the sometimes gloomy weeks and months prior to the spring. Of course you can always find expert advice from our staff. We are always here to help you with all of your gardening questions. 

Anthurium Care
Family: Araceae
Common Name: Flamingo Flower, Tail Flower, Painted Tongue Plant
Botanical Name: Anthurium andraeanum

Here’s a little secret: the beautiful heart-shaped “flowers” are not flowers! What makes these durable, easy-care houseplants so appealing are red, white, pink, or purple waxy leaves called spathes that flare from the base of the fleshy spike where the actual tiny flowers grow. These indoor plants are epiphytes, a type of air plant that comes from warm, tropical regions where they either grow on the surface of other plants or in rich organic humus. Therefore, as a houseplant, the Anthurium is extremely durable and requires little care. Simply repot with a peat moss or a coco coir-based soil mixture, provide bright, indirect sunlight, and allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings. For more robust, repeated “flowering,” allow the Anthurium to rest for six weeks with little water during the winter at approximately 60°F. If you notice that the “flower” is green rather than the color you were expecting, it may be a new sprout that was forced to bloom when it should have been resting. If a “flower” is fading, it is likely an older bloom that is ready to dry up and fall off (see below for care).

Important! Anthurium are poisonous if ingested, so be very careful if you have pets and/or small children. The sap can also cause skin irritation.

Light
Flowering Anthurium needs bright, indirect light (direct sunlight will scorch the leaves and flowers!). Low light will slow growth and produce fewer, smaller “flowers.”

Water
Water thoroughly when the first inch of the soil becomes dry to the touch, stopping when water starts draining from the drainage holes. Avoid overwatering (Anthurium roots are susceptible to rot!). The more light and warmth that your Anthurium gets, the more water it will need, so check the soil for dryness every few days. These plants will provide signs of stress or thirst, so pay attention: thirsty plants will be light if you lift them and will have droopy or puckering leaves. You will not need to water as often in the winter when the plant is not actively growing.

Temperature
The Anthurium prefers very warm temperatures (70-90°F), but don’t worry – these plants are extremely adaptable and can flourish in typical household temperature ranges. However, be careful of temperature extremes: if your thermostat drops below 50°F, the Anthurium will stop growing; if your house gets too hot, your Anthuriums will wilt.

Humidity
Most Anthuriums thrive on humidity, but the flowering varieties can tolerate more dryness. If your humidity level is less than 50%, then consider using a humidifier to increase the level to at least 60%. Filling small trays with pebbles and water and grouping indoor plants together can slightly increase the humidity immediately surrounding your plants.

Fertilizer
During the growing season (spring and summer), feed your Anthurium once a month using a complete, ¼-strength liquid fertilizer. Note — too much fertilizer can do more harm than good. To encourage more blooms, use a fertilizer higher in phosphorus during the growing season.

Pro Tips
Use a fertilizer high in phosphorus to promote blooms in flowering varieties.
Use a soil that drains well to avoid root rot, but holds enough moisture for root absorption.
Don’t be alarmed when you see roots growing from the stems! These are simply aerial roots that would benefit from occasional misting. If you don’t like the look of these roots, you can cut them without hurting the plant.
As your Anthurium grows, place it in a bigger pot. Crowded roots will stunt the plant’s growth!
When the flowers fade and you want to remove them, cut at the base of the flower stem, closest to the base of the plant.