Starting PansiesOn February 1, 2022 by Three Brothers Blooms
Pansies and Violas. I passionately adore them. I keep vases full of them around my home all year and tuck them into every bouquet I can at my markets. As with any flowers, I encourage you to do what works best for you when starting them. Starting environment and an appropriate climate are vital to how flowers grow and thrive. I am in zone 8b, at the southern end of an Island in the Pacific Northwest with a constant sea breeze flowing through my garden. Our temps tend to be a few degrees milder than the areas around us. Our frosts come later and stop sooner than those just across the water. This plays into the success of our flowers that enjoy cool nights such as sweet peas and pansies. I’ve tried several methods for starting them and this is what brings me the most success.
- Pansy seeds can be chilled for a week in a 40 degree cooler or refrigerator before sowing. I have tested germination with pre-chilling and without, and I have found the pre-chilled seeds did sprout a bit quicker although all seeds did eventually germinate both ways. You can start them up to 12 weeks before your last frost for spring and summer flowering.
- Sow 1-3 seeds per cell on the surface of the soil and cover them very lightly. Use a humidity dome and place them somewhere between 60-68 degrees until germination is achieved.
- Pansies like cool roots. I immediately move mine to my unheated greenhouse after germination, although I do have a small heater that keeps my greenhouse from dropping below 45 degrees. I’ve found they grow best at temps around 50-55 when first getting started.
- Water often. Pansies love particularly cool damp soil that their roots can stretch down towards. If you find your pansies are leggy, they are likely not getting enough light. Although pansies can be happy with some some shade, they do need ample light when first growing.
They can then be transplanted into the garden a few weeks before the last frost depending on your zone. Pansies are hardy and can withstand mild frosts and even snow. I transplant mine out when they reach about 1″ in height. I have most growing in full sun and a few in partial shade. Be sure to water deeply, so there is always cool damp soil at their root base and deadhead often to ensure continuous blooms.
If you want to achieve long stems on your pansies so they are suitable for bouquet work, I recommend planting them closely together in a raised bed if possible or among others flowers they can climb with for support.
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