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Pansies (Viola family) are a perfect early addition to your spring garden!

Pansies are easy to grow, maintain and add a wide variety of color to any planter or border. Normally sold as an annual, they are actually biennials, meaning they last two distinct seasons. Spring pansies will bloom profusely in early spring, tend to go a little dormant in the strong summer heat- then return again in the fall. Fall pansies will bloom in fall, winter over and appear next spring. For such a little flower, it gives you nearly one solid year of performance!

They make great border plants (just remember they perform better in cool seasons)

Or in a planter - either alone or in combination with other summer flowering plants. The nice thing about planting them with other summer flowers is they tend to let their cohabitants thrive in summer until it's their turn again in fall. When it's time to remove the tender summer plants from the planter in fall (with frost) they will fill in the planter nicely until the winter arrives.

(note: in the late fall, this begonia, pictured, will be ready to either come inside or be removed. The Pansy will soon take over this pot by that time!)

Soil Preparation: Start your new bed with a generous amount of planting mix. Peat, vermiculite, perlite, loam or organic compost is needed. To help keep roots cool, add a top layer of mulch to the top of soil.

Plant Pansies in full sun to partial shade. Feeding is essential throughout the growing season.

Varieties/types: Garden Pansies are the large face, 2 to 4" flower with a prominent face in the middle.

Violas are somewhat smaller blooms, less "face" and usually in solid colors. Violas do

tend to be more hardy than the garden Pansies, often lasting more than just 2 seasons. They are nice in mass plantings and create a more delicate appearance.

Johnny Jump Ups are even smaller version of Violas. These whimsical small flowers tend to pop their seeds out of the flower- sending them shooting everywhere in your yard. When a year has passed, gardeners will find these little clusters of violas popping up literally- everywhere. It's simple enough to just dig the new sprouts up with a small spoon and relocate.

"Plentifall" Pansies are a fairly new variety that boasts a trailing habit. We've noticed they do last longer through the hot summer than regular Pansies, the bloom is similar to a viola. They are fuller in growth habit, and do nicely in a hanging pot or above ground planter. read more here

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