Horowhenua Chronicle

The positive power of PANSIES

Pansies will perform through three seasons, writes

- Gareth Carter

The pansy is recognised as a cheerful flower, a happy, easygoing bloom. The plants are easy to grow, so much so that if left to their own devices they will often self-sow and come up by themselves year after year. They will naturalise themselves into an area, coming up through cracks in paving or concrete, popping up throughout a garden, self-sowing into containers or pots nearby.

They seem to survive in the toughest of spots with little water or sun as well as thriving in well-watered, fertile, sunny areas.

Pansies establish quickly, reaching flowering stage from first seedling appearance or planting in a matter of weeks. They then proceed to flower prolifical­ly for six months or more.

It is little wonder the pansy is such a popular plant — they thrive through three cooler seasons of the year but dislike the hot, intense sun of summer.

The cooler weather, while slowing the speed of establishm­ent a little, doesn’t seem to slow the flowering. The pansy is an excellent plant to grow for colour during the dull winter months.

The pansy is more popular than ever before and for many good reasons. The versatilit­y of uses and tolerance of such a range of conditions have allowed this plant to gain popularity through all generation­s and ages of gardeners and non-gardeners alike.

There are a number of ways you can use these cheerful, easy-to-grow colourful plants to brighten up your winter and capture the imaginatio­n of others.

The pansy is more popular than ever before and for many good reasons.

Pansies in hanging baskets

They are excellent for growing in hanging baskets. Planting both the top and sides of the basket will create the appearance of a ball of colour, which will look spectacula­r wherever you hang them. Using a wire basket with a coconut liner will allow you to be able to put a slit in the sides with a craft knife, through which the seedlings can be planted. When growing in hanging baskets, watering needs to be watched more carefully as they are suspended and they tend to dry out quicker than pots on the ground. The addition of saturaid to the potting mix, if it does not already contain it, will help dramatical­ly with water retention.

Brighten the front entrancewa­y

Nothing is more welcoming that a colourful floral display by the main entrancewa­y; whether it is a home, shop, business or community building, a display of pansies will provide a most eye-catching and colourful show for winter and spring in garden borders and pots. Colours include; purple, white, blues, black, scarlet, yellow, gold etc and mixed colours. All are vibrant and produce a bright mix of colourful cheerful flowers on strong compact plants for a long period of time. When growing in pots don’t be tempted to reuse old potting mix — tip this into the compost heap and start again. More than half the success of any plant depends on the soil it grows in. Select a decent potting mix and you’re on your way, in the garden centre we recommend (and use ourselves Natural Bark potting mix or Ican Premium potting mix).

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