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Seasonal Tip

First Signs of Spring
March 21, 2009

Valentine's Day has passed. The ice and snow is melting. As the temperatures begin to rise, so does our anticipation for the gardening season!

One of the first signs that spring is on its way is the return of colorful, cheery pansies and violas! Available in pots, packs, flats, window boxes, porch containers, and even hanging baskets, nothing rings in the new planting season in a more grand fashion.

No matter what color scheme you envision, there will be a pansy that fits the bill.

Pansies can be planted in sun to shade. For a beautiful display, add some peat moss and slow release fertilizer to the soil when planting. This improves the quality of the soil and puts needed nutrients right at the root zone. Slow release fertilizer generally lasts for an average of three months. By using fertilizer and soil amendments, your plants will grow much more quickly and vigorously.

Because pansies are among the first flowering plants available in garden centers, customers frequently ask what should be done when we get the typical March snow/ice coating. Pansies will hold up quite well in cold, wet weather.

Simply trim off the blossoms that were exposed to the snow or ice and very soon new flower buds will be popping with color. As pansies continue to grow, they can begin to look a bit straggly, or "leggy." When this happens, a quick trim of approximately one third to one half of the plant will result in a fuller, denser plant with loads of flowers. The more blossoms you pick, the more you will have.

For a more unique look, try planting pansies among other cool season crops such as spring bulbs, hellebores, and bergenia. The differences in color and texture provide both contrasting and complimentary opportunities.

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