Pansies are a long-time favorite bedding plant. While technically short-lived perennials, most gardeners choose to treat them as annuals, planting new seedlings each year. Coming in a wide array of colors and patterns, these harbingers of spring are readily available for purchase in most home improvement stores, garden centers, and nurseries. Gardeners looking to save money often consider starting their own pansy transplants from seed. Though somewhat time consuming, the process is relatively easy, even for inexperienced growers. Keep reading to learn about the care of seed grown pansies.
How to Plant Pansy Seeds
Pansies are cool season plants which grow best when temperatures are below 65 F. (18 C.). This makes the plants ideal candidates for planting in fall and spring gardens. Knowing when and how to sow pansy seeds varies depending upon where the grower lives. With its larger blooms, this member of the viola family is surprisingly cold tolerant, often surviving temperatures below 10 F. (-12 C.). Various germination methods will ensure a beautiful addition to home landscaping and decorative flower beds.
When growing pansies from seed, temperature is an important factor which must be regulated. Ideal germination temperatures range between 65-75 F. (18-24 C.). While gardeners living in warmer growing zones may be able to sow seeds in the late summer for fall and winter blooms, those living in harsher climate zones may need to sow seed in spring.
Starting Pansies Indoors
Pansy seed propagation indoors is relatively easy. Start with a high-quality seed starting mix. Fill the plant trays with growing medium. Then, surface sow the pansy seeds into the tray, making sure that the seed comes into good contact with the soil.
Place the tray into a black plastic bag which does not allow light to pass. Place the tray in a cool location and check for signs of growth every couple days. Make certain the soil remains moist throughout the germination process.
Once seeds have germinated, move to a location with ample light until time to transplant into the garden. Remember, the hardy nature of pansies allows them to be transplanted in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Fall sown pansies can be transplanted as soon temperatures have started to cool in autumn.
Starting Pansies Outdoors
While direct sowing pansy seeds into the garden may be possible, it is not recommended. Gardeners without the space or required supplies for starting seeds indoors can still do so using the winter sowing method.
The winter sowing method uses recycled containers, such as milk jugs, to serve as “mini greenhouses.” Surface sow the pansy seeds into containers and place the containers outside. When time is right, the pansy seeds will germinate and begin to grow.
Seedlings can be transplanted into the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring.