Pansies when to plant

You can buy pansies at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses in Williamsville and plant them outside now. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Pansies in blues, purples, yellows and oranges are displayed on long tables outside Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville.

The exciting word in that sentence is “outside.”

“When we put them out (on display), we’re confident that they’re ready to be out, and to stay out,” said Mark Yadon, vice president of Mischler’s. “We usually put them out the first week of April, but this year we’re doing them a little earlier.”

The pansies were out last week already. Compare that to last year, when the pansies were ready the first week of April, but they could be grown only in containers because the ground was still frozen.

This year you can not only display pansies in pots, you can plant them in the ground as long as the soil in your garden can be worked. If you scoop up some soil and it’s crumbly, you can work it. If you squeeze it and it forms a glob, it’s too wet.

If you drive through the Village of Williamsville, you can see pots of pansies supplied by Mischler’s to the Village Preservation Society.

“It’s the first sign of spring,” Yadon said.

You can get pansies at Mischler’s in hanging baskets, various sized containers and flats.

Pansies are a cool weather annual. They don’t mind cool temperatures and they can tolerate some frost. That’s why you can put a pot of pansies out now and leave it out.

There will be more cool weather annuals ready in about a week to 10 days, Yadon said. Those include osteospermum daisies, diascia, nemesia, snapdragons and some petunias.

Remember that those are plants that can take the cold and some frost. You can’t plant tender annuals, such as coleus, mandevilla, sweet potato vine, begonias or marigolds, until the threat of frost has passed. In Western New York, the rule of thumb is to wait until Memorial Day to put those out. Even if we have a string of warm, even hot, days at the beginning of May, we could still get a frost, so don’t be fooled.

In a week to 10 days from now, Mischler’s will also have some cold tolerant perennials available, including English daisies, columbine and creeping phlox.

And mark your calendars for Mischler’s 49-cent Perennial Sale, which will start Friday, April 22. You can see a list of plants that will be available here.

You can also stop by Mischler’s booth at Plantasia to see some clever items that fit in with this year’s theme of “Plantasia Rocks.”

Take a look at some of the items that Mischler’s will have for sale at their booth at Plantasia.

This fairy garden features stone walls, a stone bridge, stone steps and stone columns. The water is really blue and white glass or stones. You’ll find lots of fairy garden accessories at Mischler’s Plantasia booth and at their shop in Williamsville. Photo by Connie Oswald StofkoThis looks like succulents growing on top of a rock, but that rock is actually a planter made of lightweight polyurethane. You can buy this already potted up or buy the planter and insert your own plants. The planter is light enough that you can set it outside in your rock garden during the summer and bring it, plants and all, into the house in autumn. A broad range of succulents for indoors and outdoors are grown at Mischler’s. Notice the turtle at left– It is carved out of stone. Mischler’s also has owls and hedgehogs.

Like the rock planter, these logs are actually planters made of polyurethane. They have drainage holes and should hold up outdoors. Other rock items from Mischler’s include stepping stones and small stones with sayings on them. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Plant These Great New Pansies Now!

Last spring, Grumpy was privileged to attend the Ball Horticultural Company’s fields trials in California. In addition to reconnecting with my acid-rock roots, I also got to preview some of the premier new plant introductions for 2010. One of them impressed me so much that I profiled it in my story, “Cheerful Advice from our Grumpy Gardener,” in the September issue of Southern Living.

It’s the ‘Plentifall’ pansy. You may have read about it first in my April post, “Suffering to Bring You New Flowers.” But you couldn’t plant them then. You can now.

What makes these pansies so special in the Grump’s estimation?

‘Plentifalls’ are among the first trailing pansies, each plant spreading about 18 inches wide. In flower beds, they grow flat on the ground and fill in to form a solid sweep of color, like this below.

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If you plant them in containers, they’ll cascade over the sides and practically hide the container with blooms. This display on a garden center bench gives you some idea.

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They’re also extremely cold-hardy, easily surviving sub-zero temps. One of Grumpy’s big beefs regarding pansies is that when I plant them in fall as instructed, they look nice until winter, when a big freeze invariably turns them to mush, and I don’t get any more blooms until April. ‘Plentifalls’ don’t do this.

Where O Where Can I Get Them?

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Any new plant takes a while to get out there. Grumpy can’t guarantee they’ll be available where you live, but they should be any day now. You can’t get them through the mail. So ask for them at Lowe’s, Home Depot, and better garden centers near you.

Plant them in fertile, well-drained soil. Full sun is best, but they’ll also take part sun. Give them a drink of water soluble fertilizer (the blue stuff) at planting and keep the soil moist, but not soaked. Plant them farther apart than normal pansies — remember, they spread. Mulching between the plants before they spread is a good way to go. Or you could plant spring bulbs, like daffodils, between these pansies now and enjoy a layer cake of color next spring.

Bring Me My Steed!

Everyone in Lexington, Kentucky (and indeed the entire world) is thrilled that Grumpy will be speaking at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games on October 4 at 11 AM and 2 PM. I’m scared of big animals like horses, so I don’t plan on riding, unless the folks there confuse this event with the Kentucky Derby and fill me with mint juleps. Oh, and Jon Carloftis (if you’re reading), a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle wouldn’t hurt.

Plant Pansies NOW for Bloom Through Next July!

Q. Dear Mike: Is it myth or fact that there is a pansy that will bloom in both spring and fall? If they do exist, when should such pansies be planted? And is it better to grow from seed or to buy flats of already started plants (if one can find them)?
—Bob Weinberg (“who loves pansies AND You Bet Your Garden”); Delaware Cty., PA

A. It’s a fact that I know from personal experience, Bobby me boy! I’ve been ‘overwintering’ pansies for a good decade now (not the same ones of course) and it works GREAT! You get to enjoy those big, beautiful blooms all fall, often throughout the entire winter, and then again from super early in Spring till summer’s heat finally blasts them out. AND those blooms are also deliciously edible and unbelievably nutritious—but we’ll get to that in a minute.

If there’s a real ‘secret’ to pansies, it’s the fact that the only time they DON’T grow well is in the hottest months of summer—July and August in the Philadelphia region, extending into June down South. So if you live in a ‘medium level’ (USDA zone 6) climate and plant them around September 1st, you have a chance of enjoying an amazing ten months of bloom if we have a mild winter! Down South you may ‘only’ get eight or nine months of flowers before the heat shuts them down—but how bad is that?

Obviously, if you want pansies this year, you’ll have to buy a flat of plants at this point. And that shouldn’t be hard—more and more nurseries and garden centers are carrying pansies in the fall. (Yes, some varieties are said to be better for overwintering than others, but you can assume that any pansies available right now are good for Fall planting.) I just picked up a mixed flat of six packs in colors that ranged from yellow to blue to a brilliant ‘blotched’ purple. And despite the negative implications of their common name, pansy blooms are not tiny or the least bit shy—the flowers are HUGE and held high above the plant, like colorful little faces looking at you. Violas, violets and Johnny jump-ups—their equally edible first cousins—are more delicate in size, but not in character like pansies, they’ll laugh at weeks of snow cover.

Ideally, plant your pansies where they’ll get some shade now, but lots of sun when the trees soon lose their leaves and the weather cools.Then they’ll get the benefit of that cooling shade when those trees leaf out again in Spring and the weather warms up. Remember, they love SUN, but DON’T like heat. Mix some compost into the ground, plant as you would any annual flower, water well, and then just stand back and enjoy. The plants will pump out lots of new blossoms until (or maybe I should say ‘if’ with global warming getting worse) it gets REALLY, REALLY cold.

Then, if you’re in zone 6 (weather generally like the New York to Philly to Wilmington region) or anywhere North of there, you should be prepared to give the plants a little winter protection when the weather gets REALLY cold. (Note: this does NOT apply if you’re actually IN a big city in zone 6, where the buildings create an almost Mediterranean climate.)

The ideal way to provide this protection is to place a few evergreen boughs gently overtop the plants. That keeps really cold, really dry air from desiccating the flowers; and more importantly, the naturally springy boughs prevent the plants from being crushed if you get heavy snow or ice. Cut branches from discarded Christmas trees are perfect for this, and they’re available in huge quantities for free just when you need them!

If we get a really warm spell mid winter, remove the boughs and let the plants enjoy it—they’ll probably even flower for you! If it doesn’t get really cold this winter, just keep the boughs handy and enjoy the show as the plants bloom continuously. Again, South of the Philly area, you don’t need winter any winter protection (at least for your pansies). You can just plant and enjoy!

If you do use winter protection, remove it as soon as the first Spring bulbs begin to poke up. Don’t worry about a few late cold snaps—these super-hardy posies are totally frost-proof, and will begin flowering again quickly, providing you with tons of flowers till summer’s heat finally blasts them out around July (which, by the way, is also the time to start seeds in a cool, well-lit area indoors for planting out that Fall).

And like I said earlier, these tough little posies aren’t just pretty to look at—the flowers of all pansies (and their first cousins: Violets, volias and Johnny jump-ups) are wonderfully edible; they’re the flowers you often see adorning fancy salads in really classy restaurants. And those tasty flowers contain a big nutritional bonus! My good buddy, retired USDA botanist and best-selling author (“The Green Pharmacy”; Rodale Books) Dr. Jim Duke notes that pansies are one of the best plant sources of rutin—a nutrient that strengthens capillaries and thus helps prevent or reverse disfiguring spider and varicose veins! So plant LOTS right now—and enjoy colorful blooms and healthy salads all Fall! And Winter… And Spring…

Speaking of Fall Planting…
It’s WAY too early to plant Spring bulbs right now, but it’s prime time to acquire those plants-to-be. You heard me right—even listeners in our Northernmost regions shouldn’t put those bulbs in the ground yet—they could sprout prematurely and ruin next season’s show! Prime time for bulb planting in the Philly area is between Halloween and Thanksgiving, soon after Thanksgiving in the mid-South, and in December further down.

Yes, I know that stores are selling them now, often with big signs saying “Spring bulb planting time is here”. It’s not. You should wait to plant—but NOT to buy. Wait till the correct planting time and you could wind up empty handed. So purchase your supplies NOW and you’ll get exactly the varieties and colors you want—in the best possible condition. Then keep those plants-to-be in a cool airy spot till it’s time to plant. DON’T seal them up in plastic bags! Hanging in open mesh bags in a cool spot is ideal.

You Bet Your Garden ©2004 Mike McGrath

Planting Pansies Outside: When Is Pansy Planting Time In The Garden

Pansies are popular winter annuals that stay bright and blooming even in snowy, cold elements. In order to help them thrive through the worst of winter conditions, it’s critical to stick to a specific pansy planting time. Read on to learn more.

Prepping for Planting Pansies Outside

Pansies have the incredible ability to survive freezing winter temperatures and come out strong in the spring season. But they can only be resilient if they’re planted at the proper time and in an ideal setting.

Fall is the best time to plant pansies. For best results, prepare the planting bed with a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic material, like compost or peat moss.

Aim for a planting spot that will get about 6 hours of full sun each day. Pansies can grow in partial shade

but will sprout best with ample sunlight.

When Should You Plant Pansies

You will know it’s time to plant pansies in the fall season when soil temperatures are between 45 and 70 degrees F. (7-21 C.).

Premature planting when temperatures are too warm will make the plant turn yellow and leave it vulnerable to frost damage or pest and disease infestation. On the other hand, planting pansies outside when soil temperatures drop below 45 degrees F. (7 C.) causes the plant’s roots to shut down, meaning it will produce few, if any, flowers.

You can check your soil’s temperature with a soil thermometer to figure out when to plant pansies in your area. Also, consider your USDA plant hardiness zone to determine the best pansy planting time. Pansies are hardy in zones 6 and up, and each zone has a slightly different planting window. In general, the ideal time to plant pansies is late September for zones 6b and 7a, early October for zone 7b, and late October for zones 8a and 8b.

What to Do After Planting Pansies Outside

Pansies should be well-watered right after planting to get them off to a good start. Be sure to water the plant’s soil and avoid wetting the flowers and leaves, which could attract disease. A layer of mulch added to the pansy plant bed will help prevent any cold weather damage come winter.

Winter Pansies – Early planting means more flowers

Winter pansy six packs ready for planting in early autumn.

Winter Flowering Pansies – early planting means more flowers throughout the winter & into spring.

In September & early October your soil & compost is warm. New compost is also warmed by the early autumn sunshine, but from mid October onward we can’t rely on the suns heat to warm soil and encourage strong growth in winter pansies.

If you plant pansies in borders, baskets, or pots in September they grow quickly producing vigorous roots and bushy tops. Bushy tops produce more flowers & then because the plants are stronger they continue to produce flowers throughout the winter, except in the harshest conditions. However pansies that are planted planted later, that is October onward never produce the roots or top growth needed to produce flowers all winter. November planting, as you summer bedding wanes don’t grow bigger and will cease flowering the coldest weather.

We know that this creates a dilemma for us all. The cooler weather, increased rain & the fact that we have returned from our holidays and care for our pots & basket properly, usually leads to a resurgence of lush growth & extra flowers. September pansy planting implies that you scrap this fresh abundance of foliage & flowers and plant your winter pansies. We are not and we have a win : win solution.

Have substitutes sat on the bench.

Use or buy empty hanging baskets and pots & plant them with winter flowering pansies in September. Then you can substitute your your summer baskets & pots as they fade during October and November. This way you have continual & beautiful flowers plus you benefit from the warm early autumn growing conditions.

For those of us with stone, wooden or ceramic statement pots which are full of summer bedding simply buy your winter pansy six packs as early as possible. Immediately, in September remember, repot them into 13cm (5″) flower pots with good multipurpose compost and establish a ‘mini nursery’. That is, nurture these freshly potted pansies in a warm sunny spot so that they grow strongly in the later summer warmth. As your summer plants fade, replace them with your new bigger and established pansies. You will be surprised by the impact these super pansies make & how well they flower all winter.

Hot September?

Some Septembers are hot & feel like the summers we often don’t get. This might cause your winter pansies to set seed en pansies set seed they stop flowering. Inspect them weekly during September and early October to see if any seed pots are forming. If they do, snip them off to ensure more flowers are formed. Once the weather cools & the bees hibernate the flowers aren’t pollinated and your pansies won’t set seed but will produce flowers.

Added impact

When planting your winter pots & basket add spring flowering bulbs below the depth of the roots of your pansies before planting them. Also around the edges add interesting foliage plants especially selected & grown for you by British nurseries for our winters.

When you are in the garden centre choosing winter flowering pansies, experiment in the garden centre by combining plants to select your colour themes. By standing flowers & foliage plants next to each other in your trolley before purchasing you can make big impact combinations. As our UK winter light levels are very low in winter we recommend lighter coloured flowers for the biggest impact. Yellow always works.

Three colours in one pot for very easy gardening.

Chrysanthemums & Autumn Cyclamen can be added to pots too.

Remember to add a layer or more of spring ‘surprise’ by placing spring flower bulbs below your pansies. Crocus, miniature Daffodils, & dwarf Iris are ideal. Click here for more spring bulb ideas.


Amazingly you will need to water during winter, particularly when your pots & baskets are close to your house or under a car port. Although the British winter is typically wet the shelter of buildings, porches & fences may mean your pots & baskets dry out. Dry compost leads to starving plants.
Starving plants don’t flower or grow well. As you walk past, push a finger under the foliage weekly to check for dry compost. The winter of 2016-17 was very dry compared to average winters & a lot of plants under performed & some evergreens died due to ‘drought’.

Planting your Winter flowering Pansies from Late October?

Due to their sturdiness, winter flowering pansies they will flower for most of the winter when planting later in October or November, but to make the biggest impact, plant more pansies and plant them closer to each other.

All winter flowering pansies have a final explosion of flowers in late winter & early spring too.

The breakthrough of the truly winter hardy pansy has revolutionised winter gardens & patios. Don’t miss out.

Reading this after the best planting season?

Winter flowering pansies will flower well into the late spring. Planting winter pansies in late autumn and winter will produce a great flush of spring flowers. They just take a little longer to flourish as the spring temperatures improve.

In spring Pansy varieties are specific for spring and summer.

Success with Pansies in the Winter Landscape: A Guide for Landscape Professionals

Freeze Protection and Cold Weather Response

When the air temperature drops below 25° F, pansy foliage will wilt and turn a gray-green color. This is a normal defense response to cold weather. Soil temperature gradients, especially in raised beds, can vary greatly due to micro-climate differences. For example, on one site in metro Atlanta, soil temperature on the south-facing slope of a pansy bed was approximately 45° F on a cold winter day, while 10 feet away, soil on the northern side of the same bed was frozen solid to the depth of the root ball. The roots could not absorb water from the frozen soil, and the plants on the north side of the bed dehydrated and died. Frozen soils combined with drying winds can spell disaster for a pansy bed, even though the plants were healthy prior to these conditions.

Pine straw, applied 2 to 4 inches thick over the top of the entire bed (plants and all) during extreme cold is one of the best ways to save a pansy planting from freeze injury. Pine straw helps trap heat in the soil, prevents it from freezing and greatly reduces exposure to cold, desiccating wind. Carefully rake the pine straw off the bed when the cold weather passes. Special frost protection fabrics have also been used successfully. These special freeze protection measures are generally taken only when the air temperature is expected to drop below 20° F for several hours, when dehydrating winds accompany the cold, and when the soil is in jeopardy of freezing. Healthy plants can generally survive short periods of temperatures down to the single digits without protection.

Care of Established Beds

When the weather cools and soil temperatures drop below 60° F, begin a liquid feed program using a fertilizer containing at least 50 percent of its nitrogen in nitrate form. A standard 15-2-20, high-nitrate pansy formula fertilizer applied at 14-day intervals through March 15 provides excellent results. Formulations with nitrogen derived from potassium nitrate (KNO3), calcium nitrate or magnesium nitrate are recommended. These formulations also have little effect on soil pH, so nutrient deficiencies are less likely to occur.

Fertilization frequency depends on the vigor and performance of the planting. Consult the label for recommended application rates. If a period of warm weather occurs, cut back on the liquid feed to avoid foliar stretching during the mid-winter. When foliar feeding is done, apply enough liquid not only to wet the foliage but also to saturate the root zone to a 4- to 6-inch depth.

Soil temperatures usually are on the rise by March 15, so fertilizers containing ammoniacal nitrogen can be used at that time. The standard fertility program used on summer annuals — 200 ppm 20-20-20 or a slow release/granular fertilizer — should work well for pansies during the remainder of the growing season.

Removing frost-damaged flowers and old, faded flowers should be a top priority with pansies. This not only improves the appearance of the color display but also prevents the onset of seed pods that consume the plant?s energy. It also reduces the changes of fungal blight diseases that feed on old blossoms. Also trim lanky branches periodically to encourage branching, compact growth and improved flowering.

Get the soil tested again during the growing season. Soil pH should be between 5.4 and 5.8 for best growth. A soil pH above 5.8 can result in boron and iron deficiency; and high pH may lead to an increased incidence of black root rot, Thielaviopsis basicola (Jones, 1993). If the soil pH rises above 5.8, drench at 10-day intervals with either iron sulfate or aluminum sulfate (1 to 3 pounds per 100 gallons) to lower the pH into the desired range. Lightly rinse pansies after application to prevent foliage injury from the drenches. Continue these corrective treatments until the soil pH drops and stays in the 5.4 to 5.8 range.

Nutritional Disorders

Pansies are relatively free from nutritional disorders when grown at the proper pH; however, when the soil pH is allowed to climb above 5.8, micronutrient deficiencies can be a problem.

Boron deficiency

Boron deficiency symptoms are very specific: the main shoot stops growing and the young, developing leaves become small, thickened and puckered.

Boron deficiency can be caused by an elevated pH above 5.8, so the first step in correcting the problem would be to lower soil pH to the recommended range (see “Care of Established Beds” for recommendations for lowering pH). In addition, a soil drench of borax at a rate of ½ ounce per 100 gallons, or a commercial product called Solubor, can be used to make boron more available to the plant. Calcium tends to tie up boron, especially when the calcium-to-magnesium ratio is too high (greater than about 5:2, Ca to Mg). If the Ca:Mg ratio is too high, include epsom salts (1 pound per 100 gallons of water) in the boron drench. Lightly rinse foliage after the application, as boron solutions can burn leaves. Do not apply more than two boron drenches during the growing season because excess boron can cause other problems. Unfortunately, plant recovery from boron deficiency is a slow process, often taking two to three weeks for normal growth to resume.

Boron Deficiency
Credit: NC State University Boron Deficiency
Credit: NC State University

Iron deficiency

Iron Deficiency
Credit: NC State University

Iron deficiency symptoms begin with interveinal chlorosis (yellowing) of primarily the youngest leaves, followed by marginal burning in severe cases. As with boron deficiency, the first step in treating iron deficiency is making sure soil pH is within the recommended range. If the pH is too high, lower it with a soil drench of iron sulfate (1 to 3 pounds per 100 gallons). Not only will this treatment lower soil pH, it also will increase iron levels in the soil solution. If further treatment is needed, use a foliar spray of 10 percent iron chelate (Sequestrene 330 Fe) at 4 ounces per 100 gallons.

Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium Deficiency
Credit:The Plant Pixie, Wilmington, NC

Magnesium deficiency symptoms begin with interveinal chlorosis of the newly matured (not the youngest, still expanding) leaves, followed by a general yellowing of the leaves beginning at the margins. Marginal necrosis can follow in severe cases. Magnesium deficiency can occur when soil pH falls below 5.4 or if the soil has high calcium levels. If magnesium deficiency is suspected, check the calcium-to-magnesium ratio on the soil test results. If it is greater than 5:2, apply a soil drench of epsom salts (2 pounds per 100 gallons of water). Do not make applications more than once every four weeks. If multiple applications are needed, be sure to monitor both foliar and soil levels of Ca to ensure that the Mg applications do not cause Ca to become deficient.

Other Environmental Considerations

Excess soil moisture decreases both the oxygen content of the soil and root growth. Carefully monitor irrigation and try to keep pansies slightly on the dry side to “harden” growth prior to cold weather. If beds are continuously wet, even in periods of normal rainfall, consider making drainage adjustments.

Heat may also be a problem, causing pansy stems to stretch and become leggy. This is a particular problem when pansies are planted too early in the season. The F1 hybrids, such as the “Majestic Giants” series, “Regal” series, “Imperial” series and “Crown” series, are known to have superior heat tolerance.

Insects and Related Pests

There are a wide variety of pests that affect pansies, and some can cause serious problems. Landscape professionals should contact their local county Extension agent for recommendations on dealing with each pest. The Georgia Pest Management Handbook, offers the most up-to-date control measures for each pest. The following are common pests of pansies.

Green Peach Aphid
Credit: Scott Bauer, USDA,
Foxglove Aphid
Credit: Charles Olsen,

Green Peach Aphid

The green peach aphid can affect pansies during production in the nursery as well as in the landscape. The adult aphid can be light green, dark green or pink, and has red eyes. Three dark lines run down its back. Wings may or may not be present. The green peach aphid is resistant to many insecticides, including the new pyrethroids.

Foxglove Aphid

The foxglove aphid infests pansy, calceolaria, hyacinth and the foliage of gladiolus, where it causes reduced vigor, curling and distortion of leaves, hardening of buds and malformed flowers. The foxglove aphid is greenish-yellow and shiny with cylindrical tapering cornicles (small upright backward-pointing tubes on the last segment of their bodies).


Pansyworms feed on pansy, violet, alyssum and Johnny-jump-up as well as moonseed, passion flower, sedum and portulaca. They are spiny orange-red caterpillars up to 1 ¼ inches long, with a black stripe down each side of their body. Spines are arranged in six rows along the top and sides of their bodies. Pansyworm is the immature stage of a variegated four-footed butterfly called fritillary.

Variegated Cutworm
Credit: R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.,
Black Cutworm
Credit: Merle Shepard,
Yellow Woollybear
Credit: David Cappaert,
Michigan State University,


Two kinds of cutworms are likely to feed on pansies: black cutworms and variegated cutworms. The black cutworm is a dark, shiny-gray-to-black caterpillar with a light-gray line down the back. Black cutworms burrow into the soil during the day and emerge to feed at dusk or in cloudy weather. The adult is a dark brown moth with mottled wings and a wingspan of 1 ½ inches.

The variegated cutworm feeds on almost any succulent broadleaf plant?s leaves, buds, flowers, fruit, stems and tubers, or roots of flowers and vegetables as well as field crops. The young caterpillars (larvae) are green with a black head and turn light brown with a greenish tinge with age. Mature larvae are 1 ¾ inches long. The adult moth has pale grayish-brown forewings and iridescent pearly white hind wings.

Yellow Woollybear

The yellow woollybear feeds on a wide range of ornamental, garden and field crops as well as weeds. The larvae, up to 2 inches long, are covered with pale yellow, brownish-yellow, red or white hairs. The adult moth has white wings with a few dark spots on each wing. Several generations occur each year. Several natural enemies limit yellow woollybear populations and the insect usually does not become a problem on crops sprayed for other pests.


The feeding done by slugs resembles that of caterpillars. Slugs require high moisture and tend to burrow into soft, open or coarse soil during the day or rest under boards, logs, flats and other debris.

Slugs are more of a problem during cool springs when temperatures are in the 60s and 70s since their activity decreases as temperatures rise. They hide in cool, damp places during the day and often feed at night while temperatures are cooler and leaves are moist. They are most active after a cool spring rain. They take shelter during cold periods and can survive light freezes.

Damage from slugs
Credit: R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.,

Slugs are eaten by birds, moles, toads and some carnivorous ground beetles and are parasitized by certain flies, mites and nematodes; however, their worst enemy is dry weather because they must have a moist environment to survive.

Chemical control of slugs usually involves the use of baits containing methiocarb or metaldehyde. For best control, place the bait close to where slugs tend to harbor ? under stones, mulch, leaves and other debris at ground level.


Listed below are some of the common diseases affecting pansies. For disease control recommendations, contact your local county Extension agent or consult the Georgia Pest Management Handbook.

Crown Rot on Pansy
Credit: L.W. Barnes, Texas A&M University,
Black Root Rot on Pansy
Credit:L.W. Barnes. Texas A&M University, Department of Plant Pathology

Crown and Root Rot Diseases

Crown rot is the most common disease problem of pansies in the landscape, caused by a soil-borne fungus, Phytophthora parasitica. It is most active in warm, wet weather and commonly occurs during the late spring and fall. The fungus infects the plant at or just above the soil line. Symptoms are greenish-brown, soft, water-soaked lesions on the stem. When the main stem is infected, the entire plant dies.

Black Root Rot

Black root rot, caused by the soil-borne fungus Thielaviopsis basicola, has become a serious problem of pansies in both production greenhouses and landscapes during recent years. This fungus attacks the fine feeder roots, kills them and turns them black. Gradually, the entire root system can die. Black root rot fungus is common in soils across the South, and it is active over a very wide temperature range.

Botrytis Blight

Botrytis blight, caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea, is sometimes a problem with pansies. It is an airborne fungus that attacks flowers as well as dead, dying or damaged plant tissue. High rates of fertilization, death of lower leaves, low light intensity, frequent watering and crowded plants all favor botrytis blight development.

Downy Mildew on Pansy
Credit: L.W. Barnes, Texas A&M University,
Cercospora leafspot on Pansy
Credit: L.W. Barnes, Texas A&M University,

Downy Mildew

Downy mildew is caused by a fungus-like organism called Peronospora. Symptoms include light-colored blotches with gray-purple spores on the underside of leaves. The top of the leaves appear chlorotic. As the disease advances, the spores congregate and the leaf takes on a gray, fuzzy texture. Eventually, leaves curl and become distorted. The damage resembles aphid damage.

Leafspot Diseases

Pansies are susceptible to several leafspot diseases. Cercospora leaf spot is the most common disease of pansy in the southeastern United States. It is characterized by irregular purple lesions on the lower leaves. In the advanced stages, the leaf spots develop tan centers with purple borders. Other common leafspot diseases of pansies are anthracnose (caused by the fungi Colletrotichum gloesosporiodes and C. violae-tricoloris) and scab or spot anthracnose (caused by Sphaceloma violae).

Leafspots vary in color from white to brown or black and often have a water-soaked margin. The spots may have a dark brown border or halo and exhibit spore-producing structures within the spots (appearing as tiny black dots).

While leafspot diseases are common on pansy, they seldom cause significant damage. Leafspot diseases are best controlled through proper sanitation, such as removal of plant debris.

In order to properly treat plant diseases, it is important to identify which specific organism is causing the problem. The University of Georgia has a plant diagnostic clinic to which Extension agents can submit samples for identification and control recommendations. Contact your county Extension office for information on sample submission.

Literature Cited

Bailey, D. 1995. North Carolina Flower Growers? Bulletin, June 1995. Volume 40, number 3.

Jones, R.K. 1993. Pansy diseases and their control. In: Proc. NC Landscape Bedding Plant Field Day. D. Bailey (ed.). NCSU. Raleigh, NC.

The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Doug Bailey, former faculty member at NC State University and current head of the University of Georgia?s Department of Horticulture, for supplying a portion of the information used in this publication.

Status and Revision History
Published on Oct 21, 2009
Published with Full Review on Oct 01, 2012
Published with Full Review on Feb 01, 2016

Is It Time Yet?

With the onset of the first few days of warm weather, the impulse to get out in the garden and plant can become very strong. However, it is usually best to wait until the weather is warmer to really get started planting. For many novice gardeners knowing when to go ahead and plant can be confusing. To make things more complicated, not everything can be planted at the same time. However, rest assured there are simple rules of thumb that you can use to know when to plant.

In order to know when it is best to start planting in spring you should know your average frost-free date. The frost-free date is, as you might guess, the date when it is fairly likely you will no longer get frost. Many plants aren’t able to withstand frost so knowing this date is important. Your local independent garden center should be able to give you a pretty good idea of this date. For those of you in the United States, your county extension agent is another good source for this information. To find your local agent, .

Plants will differ on the best time for planting. Here are some guidelines for which plants can be planted at different times.

Early Spring – As Soon as the Ground is Workable

  • The ground is considered workable as soon as it is no longer frozen and it is not too wet to work. To determine if the ground is too wet to work, squeeze a handful of dirt in your hand, it should fall apart easily. If it sticks together the ground is too wet to work.
  • Bareroot perennials, as long as they are dormant, can be planted now.
  • Very cold tolerant annuals such as violas, primroses and pansies can be planted, they must be hardened-off in order to survive. Check with the garden center where you buy the plants to find out if they are already hardened-off or if you need to do this yourself.
  • Certain cold crop vegetables can be seeded at this time, notably peas and spinach. Seed onions can also be planted.
  • Dormant shrubs and trees can be planted as well.

Early Spring – Two to Three Weeks Before the Threat of Frost is Passed

  • This is the first time we are using the frost-free date. There are annuals that are perfectly happy to withstand multiple frosts and continue to bloom, such as nemesia, diascia, snapdragons and osteospermum. These are good choices for early spring color. Again, it is important they be hardened-off to survive.
  • Many potted perennials can be planted, make sure they were grown outside or in coldframes so they are acclimated to the cold temperatures of early spring. If the plants were grown outside and are hardy for your area, you should be able to plant them.
  • Bareroot perennials can be planted.
  • Shrubs and trees, either dormant or leafed out, can be planted as long as they were grown outside.
  • Cool season vegetables can be seeded or planted out. Things like lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes and seed potatoes (not potato plants which will not tolerate a freeze) can be planted.

Spring – After Threat of Frost has Passed

  • Again, use your frost-free date as a guideline. While there is no guarantee that you won’t still get frost, it is somewhat unlikely to happen. If you are predicted to have frost cover tender plants.
  • Any annual or vegetable can be seeded at this time.
  • Transplant any annual or vegetable plants, including potato plants.
  • Any perennial plants, bareroot or potted, can be planted out at this time.
  • Trees and shrubs, either bareroot or potted, can be planted at this time. Plants that have leafed out can be planted, as well.
  • Perennials that aren’t blooming can be dug and divided, for more on dividing perennials .
  • Summer blooming, non-hardy bulbs and bulb-like plants can be planted, for instance dahlias, colocasia (elephant ear), and gladiolas. These bulbs are not cold tolerant and will not last the winter outdoors in most areas.


  • Most plants can be planted or transplanted in summer, but they will generally take more attention and care to survive. Due to the hot weather of the summer months, you will need to be sure to provide adequate water and these plants may need to be babied.
  • If at all possible, do NOT dig and divide perennials, especially those in bloom.
  • Heat tolerant annual or perennial plants can be planted with good success in summer.
  • Plants that aren’t heat tolerant will struggle if planted in the summer.


  • Once the weather begins to cool, fall is a great time to plant many perennials, bulbs, shrubs and trees. In fact, for many of these plants fall is the BEST time to plant.
  • Plant shrubs and trees, they will establish root systems by the time spring rolls around.
  • Plant perennials of all kinds.
  • Fall is a GREAT time to dig and divide most perennials, do NOT do so with any that are blooming.
  • Plant cold tolerant annuals – these can bloom for weeks in the fall. Diasica, nemesia, and osteospermum are all good fall planted plants. Plant early so you get maximum enjoyment.
  • Winter hardy pansies and violas should be planted, you will get a bloom in fall and again in spring.
  • Spring blooming bulbs can be planted.

Fall – As Long as the Soil is Workable

  • Spring blooming bulbs can be planted any time as long as the ground isn’t frozen.
  • Shrubs and trees can be planted, however, earlier in fall is better as it allows for best root establishment before winter.
  • Cold tolerant perennials can be planted, but they will be more winter hardy if planted earlier in fall. Losses are more likely if they are planted late in fall.

When you are just starting out, knowing when to plant can be scary and intimidating. Try not to worry too much. Mother Nature is really pretty forgiving. The perfect time to plant isn’t just one or two days, prime planting time goes on for weeks. So, relax, enjoy the sunshine and feel the dirt in your hands! Be sure to take a moment to notice the birds and the butterflies sharing your garden with you, after all gardening should feed your soul.

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