Planting Pansies and Bulbs the Easy Way.

Well, it’s time to plant pansies in Georgia but my operation in September involved cutting a muscle in my right shoulder and has limited my strength and use in the attached arm. Last week I wanted to plant some pansies in my own yard and my pride would not allow me to ask for help.  Fortunately, though, I had found a new tool in the form of an auger designed to fit on my electric hand drill. I can remember having one of these years ago and was delighted when I found a new one at Lowe’s. (read on for a scam alert)

My new bedding plant digging tool. The drill is for scale.

My new bedding plant digging tool. The drill is for scale.

I don’t remember what I paid for this auger. I probably wouldn’t have spent any more than $12.99 for it knowing me, but when I looked the item up on the web to find a link for my readers, I found it listed at astounding prices—Amazon had it at around triple the $12.99—so be careful if you look for this on line. Anyway, I went to Lowe’s this morning to look again and I wasn’t able to find the item at all so if you want one, you will have to look around.

I had some beautiful pansies that were left over from a couple of jobs and I didn’t mind hiring a little help with leaf removal. I’ll bet you can imagine what the leaves look like on Oakwood Street. There are piles and piles.

leaves on Oakwood Street

leaves on Oakwood Street

I cleaned out the begonias, zinnias, and angelonia that we had enjoyed all summer and then checked out the plants that I wanted to use

available pansies on the pick up truck tailgate.

available pansies on the pick up truck tailgate.

The big problem with planting the flowers is that with a bum right arm, I have trouble getting up and down. I was tickled with myself when I started drilling holes with my new tool (Oookay, ladies, “toy”). The more I think about it, too, the auger seems to also make a better hole for the plants and the excavated dirt is piled up right beside the hole ready to go back in around the roots. So I drilled holes everywhere I thought a plant should be. The auger seemed to help with spacing.

using an auger to dig holes for pansies.

using an auger to dig holes for pansies.

With the holes dug, it was very easy to dump just the right amount of time release fertilizer in each one.

Time release fertilizer in every hole.

Time release fertilizer in every hole.

I had fun liberating the well-rooted plants from the six packs and dropping them in the holes. This job was getting easier and easier.

dropping the plants in the holes.

dropping the plants in the holes.

The next part of the job that I had to figure out how to do without getting down on my knees was to get the plants actually planted with the soil firmed in around the roots. I mustered up a smile and then asked my sweet wife to help with this job. Bless her heart, she got down there and did a beautiful job. I decided not to charge her for allowing her to help.

finishing the planting with a loving touch

finishing the planting with a loving touchGiving the roots a loving touch

When Dekie finished the planting, she looked at me and said, “Don’t put that thing away, I’ll be right back.” She headed for the front porch to get some tulip bulbs that had been sitting there waiting.

tulip bulbs to go among the pansies.

tulip bulbs to go among the pansies.

That’s when I found out what this here auger was made for. It digs absolutely perfect holes for planting bulbs. We dug holes like prepositions—over under around and through the pansy plants (well, leave out the over and under part) and then we dropped the bulb fertilizer and the bulbs right in there.

the plant auger makes perfect holes for bulbs

the plant auger makes perfect holes for bulbs

I don’t happen to possess a stout battery operated drill at the moment, so I used my plug in model which performed very well with the auger. A battery powered drill would be very nice, but I think it would have to be a strong one.  Anyway, I intend to get a lot of use out of this auger as time goes by. If you plant a lot of bedding plants and/or bulbs, I would recommend purchasing one. Here’s a picture of the hanger label that came with it.

auger label

auger label

 

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As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

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Using pansies in window boxes for winter color

Using pansies in window boxes for winter color

 Dot Fletcher loves her window planters. I call them window boxes, but they are actually made of a wire frame with coconut fiber liners. We change these planters twice a year—in the spring we plant lots of begonias, bacopa, and similar plants for summer color. In October, when the begonia plantings still look nice, we change the planters over to pansies. I love pansies because of their hardiness and their ability to give us beautiful flowers throughout the cold days of winter.

We started the project with a trip to a couple of local nurseries where we picked out just the right colors of pansies. I laid the trays of plants out on the driveway next to a tarp which would help to keep the site clean.

Choose just the right colors of pansies for the planters

Choose just the right colors of pansies for the planters

Repeated work with these planters has shown me that we need to change the coco liners once a year. Here is a label from the new ones:

You can find coconut fiber liners for just about any wire planter

You can find coconut fiber liners for just about any wire planter

I bought a bag of premium potting soil. This particular blend from Miracle Gro is loose and easy to work with. A good potting soil will allow air flow while still having a capacity to retain moisture.

A good potting mix ensures success

A good potting mix ensures success

There were six planters. We changed out the liners and filled them with potting soil.

fiber lined window boxes ready to plant

fiber lined window boxes ready to plant

I had also gotten a couple of trays of violas. I love violas because they just keep on blooming. I thought these would be good for the corners and spots in the fronts of the planters because the violas tend to droop and run as they grow. They will fill in the areas below the pansies. I used a tray of white and a tray of purple.

Violas will fill in and enhance the sides and fronts of the planters

Violas will fill in and enhance the sides and fronts of the planters

We sprinkled Osmocote, a time release fertilizer, over the top of the soil before planting. The actual planting of the plants will mix the fertilizer into the soil and the fertilizer will work slowly all season long. At this point, we’re ready to plant.

Pansies love Osmocote which feeds them all season

Pansies love Osmocote which feeds them all season

I started out by planting the separate colors in groups of three and then finished up by filling in the blank spaces with whites. All of the planters were to look more or less the same, so I planted one for a prototype and then followed the design on the next five. The coco mat liners allow for lots of air flow and that allows me to pack the planters with as many plants as I can find room for.

arranging pansies for lots of color and interest

arranging pansies for lots of color and interest

We moved the finished planters to the windows. Dot told me that one of the best things I ever did was to install the system of drip stakes for the window planters. There are two stakes for each planter which are attached to tubes which come up from a drip system at the base of the wall.

drip irrigation stakes for container watering

drip irrigation stakes for container watering

The drip stakes run for 7 minutes every other day and are controlled by a simple, inexpensive, and easily installed Orbit timer that I found at Home Depot.

Orbit irrigation controller--inexpensive and easy

Orbit irrigation controller–inexpensive and easy

The pansy planters look good in the windows. The plants and flowers will droop a bit at first but will pick up and look pretty after a couple of days of sunshine.

A pansy planter on the outside windowsill will flower all winter

A pansy planter on the outside windowsill will flower all winter

You will find a little bit more information about running drip tubing to planters in an earlier article if you click here

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Would you like a consultation with johntheplantman in your yard? Contact John Schulz BY EMAIL

Do you have a landscaping problem that needs solving? Leave a comment.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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How to Plant Pansies

pansy vase

It’s pansy planting time here in the southeast.  We are busy cleaning up the spent begonias and petunias before they turn to mush in the next week or two.  Then we replace them with pansies.  Glorious pansies.

I like pansies for several reasons:

  • They brighten up the winter landscape.
  • They seem to be hardy enough to survive the harshest winters.
  • Pansies not only offer a beautiful flower, but they offer it when not much else does.
  • A bed of pansies will offer a wonderful show of color when it matures in the spring.
  • They are nicely fragrant and offer a source of cut flowers for inside.

Actually, with these flowers, the more you pick, the more you get.

When I was a teenager, in the late fifties and early sixties, I can remember my grandmother and my mother purchasing pansy plants.  They didn’t come in six packs or pots like they do today.  They were sold bare root, wrapped up in bits of moist newspaper or in paper towels like the ones that were available at the gas station for washing windshields. (Of course, at that time, you didn’t have to wash your own windshield, either, you drove up to the pump, said, “give me two dollars,” and they pumped your eight gallons of gas, washed your windshield, and checked your tires and oil.)

Pansies later started appearing in stores in six packs, usually 36 plants to a flat (tray).  Now they are in all sized containers and are available 18 plants to a flat, in round 4 inch pots, and in larger sizes.  I find that it is cost effective to go with the six packs as you get twice (or more) plants for the money and that means they can be planted thicker for less money.

When buying pansies, I look for the following:

  • First, ask when the plants will be delivered and meet the truck.  Get them fresh from the nursery. This gives the nursery (or big store) less time to mess them up.
  • Look at the plant, not the bloom.  Look for plants that are stout, not stretched out.
  • Pull a random plant out of the container and look at the roots.  They should be white and well formed.  Do not buy plants with brown roots.
  • Look for indications of grey, powdery mildew.  Avoid any that show this fungal disease.
  • Remember, unless instant gratification is too slow for you, bigger is not always better. They will grow.

When you purchase the pansy plants, also ask for a package of Osmocote.  This is a time-release fertilizer that I use religiously with my bedding plants.

 

osmocote

 

The technique for planting is basically the same as with any bedding plant.

  • Choose a location with as much light as possible, preferably use a prepared bed.
  • Space the plants 6 to 8 inches apart.
  • Dig a hole that is approximately half again the size of the container.
  • Sprinkle in a half a teaspoon of Osmocote.
  • Chop up the dirt from the hole and fill it back in.
  • Mulch with pine straw or wood chips and water them in
  • That’s it!!
  • You will find that if you pick the spent blooms (deadheading) and/or pick for cut flowers, you will get an increased yield of flowers.

It doesn’t hurt when the plants are freshly planted to pour a little liquid feed over them. Use something like Peter’s, or Hyponex.  I really like Schultz’s plant food (no relation).

Enjoy your pansy bed.  The only hard part is when you have to pull them out in the late spring to replace them with summer annuals.

Grow it!!

John P. Schulz

11/8/09

 

 

 

 

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