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Now that I have learned just how easy it is to grow pansies from seed, I plan to do so from now on. The only exception would be if I find a pansy I don't have, really like, but can't find the seed. Then, I would but the plant one time to get the seed. After all, we do want to keep our suppliers, growers, and breeders in business.
I just transferred some pansy seedlings from trays to hanging baskets. The seeds were planted mid August. From mid October til the first hard freeze, these baskets will make a very nice display. Then after a period of semi dormancy, they will bloom again from early spring til early June.
What was my cost for these two hanging baskets? We won't count labor; it was a labor of love. The seven plants per basket came from seed costing less than 5 cents, a total of less than 10 cents for two baskets.
The baskets were saved from previous purchases. Cost, zero. They were half filled with saved Styro chips. Cost, zero. Then filled with my own soil. Cost, zero.
So, unless you want to count a small amount of fertilizer and some water, my total cost was less than 10 cents. How does that compare with the price of two (granted, already in full bloom) baskets purchased from a garden center?
Two baskets, as these will be by mid October, will cost $25.00. My savings, $24.90. You can't beat that with a stick. But, there is much more to this bargain.
Most anyone can walk into a garden center, buy a couple of hanging baskets of pansies, take them home and hang them up. But if you really love plants, no amount of money can buy the pleasure and satisfaction found in growing them, yourself.
Yeah, $25 worth of pansy baskets for 10 cents. That's frugality to the inth degree. And my real reason for sharing this tip with you? Just so I could show you, and brag about, the very first pansies I have ever grown in my life.
Some varieties of pansies do best in late spring and early summer, while others do best in fall and winter. In general, most varieties will do well in either. I have been buying plants in early fall, as soon as they are available in garden centers. By doing so, I have a nice display in fall, all but the coldest parts of winter, and then, spring and the early part of summer.
This year, I plan to raise pansies from seed. With pansies unable to withstand summer heat and strong sun, some people are confused as to planting seed in summer.
If you want a late fall and winter display, the seed must be planted during summer. This is due to the fact that from seed to bloom, a full 12 weeks (3 months) is required.
Mature pansy plants will always succumb to summer extremes, while young seedlings, given adequate protection, will tolerate moderate summer temperatures and sunlight. By the time the seedlings have become mature plants, the weather will be considerably cooler.
By starting my seed in early August, I should have blooming size plants by early November. I plan to save a lot of money by growing pansies from seed, plus, I won't have to worry as to whether I will be able to find my favorite varieties at the garden centers.
The treatment of pansy and viola seed is a bit different from that of most seeds in general. For a medium, they should have a light, loamy soil, high in rich organic matter. This medium must be kept moist at all times, never allowing it to become dry.
The soil should be thoroughly moist before planting the seeds. The seed should not be planted deeply. They can be gently pressed into the soil or a scattering of soil can be broadcast over the seed, barely enough to cover the seed.
Pansy seeds require moist conditions (not soggy), cool temperatures (<60 degrees) and darkness to germinate. It takes about 2 weeks for the seed to sprout. I planted my seed in a flat filled with rich soil, placed the flat on the ground in the shadiest, coolest part of my yard, and covered the flat with a concrete mixing tub, (black plastic will work just as well). My eager seed began sprouting in a week.
When all, (or most) of the seed has sprouted, the cover can be removed for short periods daily, gradually increasing the exposure as the seedlings begin to mature.
By the time the plants are large enough to easily be lifted and transplanted to their permanent location, the sun should no longer pose any problem to the plants. Don't worry about transplanting. The pansy is one plant that seems unaffected by transplanting, even several times, (should you decide you want to move them to another location).
It is unlikely the seedlings will be attacked by mold, mildew, or virus, but do keep a watch for such. More likely, the seedlings could be devoured by slugs and snails. They do favor the most tender parts of the pansy plant, and of course, the seedlings are the most tender of all. I suggest a product such as Bug-Geta for eradicating the slugs and snails. I have found it to be very effective. It isn't cheap, but a little goes a long way. Get it on sale if you can.