Grow pansies from seed

“The beauteous pansies rise/In purple, gold, and blue/With tints of rainbow hue/Mocking the sunset skies.” ~ Thomas John Ouseley, “The Angel of the Flowers” (c. 1874)

In Sunday’s Mail Tribune column (Sept. 24, 2017), I wrote about growing pansies. Of course, it’s not difficult to find pansies to buy and plant out in the garden, but oftentimes pansies sold in nurseries are overgrown and rootbound in their containers. I enjoy growing my pansies from seed, although they require cold stratification and darkness to germinate.

I start pansy seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before I plan to plant them in the garden. First, I place the seeds I’m going to sow in the refrigerator for one week to cold stratify. Then, I fill clean seed trays with a seed starter mixture made of  coconut coir/peat moss and vermiculite/perlite. Pansy seeds only need to be covered with a fine  layer of growing medium sifted through a sieve. Then I cover the seed tray and place them somewhere where the temperature remains below 70 degrees F (this is my “sunroom” in the winter).

The most challenging part of growing pansies from seed is finding a cool place for the seeds to germinate, keeping the seeds moist by misting, and remembering to check the seeds everyday for signs of emerging growth.

Pansy seeds should germinate in 2-3 weeks. Once they do germinate , I uncover the seeds trays and move them to my greenhouse with my other sun-loving plants. There, I maintain bottom heat for my pansies between 55-65 degrees F. and continue to keep the soil slightly moist.  Once the seedlings grow their first set of “true leaves” (not the cotyledons), I transplant them into 4-inch pots where they will overwinter until early spring. ‘

I found a website that provides very interesting information about the history of pansies at:

Happy pansy growing!

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