How To Plant Pansies In Containers And Pots

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The article provides tips for planting pansies and violas in containers & pots
by Samantha Steele · All Zones · Container Gardens · 1 Comments · September 21, 2012 · 17,201 views

Planting Pansies & Violas in Containers

Orange Pansies in potsChances are, if you're reading this article, Fall is here, or near! Now is the time to start getting your fall containers planted and below are some helpful tips for successful growing choosing the right type of plants, pots, potting mix, fertilizer and more!

Choosing A Container

First things first! When choosing a container for pansies or violas you should be mindful of air movement and drainage. In summer the best containers for air flow and drainage are clay and concrete pottery. Why is this not the best choice for fall and winter containers? In the fall and winter, the temperatures are cooler and water is not going to evaporate as quickly and will soak into a clay or concrete container. When the frost comes it is possible and probable that the water that has soaked in to the pot will freeze and expand, which can cause the porous clay or concrete container to crack. So it's best to empty out any clay or concrete containers and store them in a place out of the elements to protect them from damage.

The more practical choice for a fall and winter container is a plastic or glazed ceramic container. These types of containers will also provide enough air flow and drainage for the winter and are much less likely to be damaged by the winter freezes.

Also, be sure to check that the container has a hole(s) in the bottom to allow for good drainage, which is essential. As with many other types of plants, pansies do not like wet feet. If the soil stays constantly soggy this will most likely lead to problems such as root rot, which is usually fatal to a plant. Once your containers have root rot there is very little you can do to reverse the damage from these diseases.

The next step in the process for choosing a fall and winter container is size. Pansies and most other fall and winter annuals don't grow very large root systems, which means they will need less soil depth and width and less water than your spring and summer annuals. If you have a large and deep container you can fill the bottom 1/4 to 1/3 of the container with gravel or small rocks. Doing so will not only improve drainage but will also save you some dollars on potting mix.

What Type Of Soil? Cool Wave Pansies in pot

After you have chosen your container, the next thing to consider is the type soil you will use to fill it. When planting pansies and other fall and winter annuals, avoid using those cheap, heavy, dollar-a-bag potting "soils." Instead, I highly suggest using a light, professional potting "mix." Reason being, potting mixes hold moisture more evenly throughout the pot while also providing sufficient drainage. I use a product called Jolly Gardener Potting Mix. You might find this or a comparable brand at your local nursery and garden center, or you can buy Jolly Gardener Potting Mix online here. Whatever you do, just stay away from the cheap potting soils, which are only good for use when planting ornamental shrubs and trees in containers or garden beds.

Selecting Pansies & Violas For You Container Gardens

Picking out your pansies and violas is the fun part! They come in just about every color you could imagine.

First, select varieties known to perform well in your region. Not all pansies and violas are alike. Some have been bred to tolerate the warmer climates in the South while others to tolerate colder winters in the North. You're much more likely to find the right varieties at a local nursery and garden center that sells "local grown" than at big box stores which often have plants shipped in from all the way acroos the country.

The colors you choose are completely up to you, but here's some things to consider when deciding:

  • Cool colors are good for close up viewing and warm colors are good for more dramatic displays in your garden even when viewed from a distance.
  • Planting warm colored annuals around a warm area will make it seem even hotter. However, if you plant with plenty of cool green, blue, violet, and pastel colors, the area won't actually be any cooler, but it will seem so and be a more inviting place.
  • Be careful of cool and warm color combinations. If your garden is primarily cool colored, a mass of flame colored flowers in the background would divert attention from the more subtle colors in the foreground and disrupt the harmonious effect.
  • Choose colors that will compliment or go well with the colors of the pot or other colors in the area nearby.

Pansy & Viola Companions

There are many other types of cool season flowering and foliage plants you can use in combination gardens. Since pansies and violas are shorter growing annuals, I usually use something taller like juncus grass, flowering cabbage or kale, tall snapdragons, autumn fern, acorus, upright rosemary, or evergreen conifers such as Arborvitae, as centerpieces or backgrounds.

Caring For Your PansiesCool Wave Pansies In Hanging Basket

When planted properly and with plenty of sunshine, pansies and violas are very easy to grow and care for.

Feeding: I recommend using a granular fertilizer for feeding plants. Pansies and violas prefer a specific type of fertilizer which contains "Nitrate" form of Nitrogen. During pansy-planting season, most nursery and garden centers carry a "Pansy Food," which contains this specific type of nitrogen.

Watering: After planting deep soak the soil in the pot. Therafter, water only enough to keep soil moist, but not constantly soggy. I always allow the soil to dry out a little between waterings.

Pruning: I always keep the pansies and violas I have growing in containers deadheaded. This just means pinching or snipping off spent flower stems, which will encourage more flowers. If your pansies or violas become leggy, pinch the branches back by up to one-half their length.


Buy Pansy Food online to fertilize your Pansies at Gardener Direct


Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
Great helpful article. Thanks.

6 years ago ·
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