by Linda Heideman, Somervell County Master Gardener
My favorite flowering plant for January is the pansy. Their little brightly-colored faces are still cheerfully blooming in my yard after being covered in ice a few weeks ago! As I read about pansies, I learned that they are the number one flowering plant for winter in North Texas. Once these flowers are placed up for sale in plant or home improvement stores, you need to get there early to beat the landscapers from buying them up first. That is how quickly they can sell around here. It may not appear to most who are not from North Texas that these flowers are so popular. Take a look around at businesses that landscape what little land they have. You will find pansies everywhere you go.
These cool climate loving flowers have such a range in color it will make your head spin. They can come in white, yellow, red, orange, blue, purple, green (which looks odd), and even as dark as black. The deep purple ones are the most popular as this may also be the original color. The reason for this being is that these are the most fragrant out of all of the other colors.
Once your Esperanzas start losing flowers, you know it is time to start planting your pansies. Be patient in finding healthy plants if you are not going to plant from seeds. Any unhealthy pansies can infect the others nearby. You can start them from seeds, and it will take anywhere from two to three weeks before you might see them sprouting up from the ground. Try not to over-water them.
Pansies should not be planted any closer than six inches from each other, as their foliage will spread out quite a ways. The recommended distance for planting pansies is 8″ to 10″ apart. Keep in mind that if you are going to plant these delicate flowers in containers, they not live as long as if they were planted in your yard. You may find that you need to feed them once a month as their root systems grow quickly.
You will find that pansies can survive through mild snowy conditions without any protection. These hearty winter flowers are a showcase around any home or business. Accentuate your boring green garden or dying green yard with these colorful flowers.