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Autumn is a Perfect Time for Pansies

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Fall officially arrived on Friday. But KUNC gardener Tom Throgmorton says there’s still time to plant flowers.

Fall pansies add a blast of color to the autumn garden. Pansies love cool weather.  In cooler temperatures, pansies have more flowers.  Their flowers are larger.  The colors are more vivid.  And the blooms last longer. 

Spring planted pansies need shady spots in the garden.  Fall planted pansies can take shade but it’s a great opportunity to use them in sunny gardens.

Fall planted pansies can take full sun because of the lower winter sun angle and shorter days.  Border a sunny entryway with fall pansies.  Put splashes of pansies in the garden to brighten the view while you’re washing the dishes. 

Pansies like well drained soil but they’ll grow in regular garden soil.  Add a little bone meal at planting time for better rooting and bigger blossoms.  Water in the new plants.  Keep them moist on our sunny warm days.  Because the nights are cool, they won’t need as much water as spring planted flowers.  Organic mulch will hold moisture in around the young plants. 

Plant pansies about six inches apart.  For the brightest show, mass one color together.  For a long border planting, a mixture of colors works.  Mix smaller flowered violas with pansies.  The violas add texture.  They also need to be grouped for the best effect.

Use snapdragons or ornamental kale to accent containers of pansies.  The kale adds a different texture to containers.  The snapdragons add height.  Both can take hard freezes just like the pansies.

To me, the real glory of autumn planted pansies is their color in late winter and early spring.  At the time of year we’re tired of brown and winter, they are in bloom.  After the last winter snows, along with spring flowering bulbs, pansies are a blast of color.  Their flowers are a sign spring is coming. 

Autumn planted pansies work in the high country, too.  Plant pansies now and their color will brighten the coming months and keep flowers on the table.

Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.
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