How to Plant a Pansy Flower Hanging Basket
I Love Pansies with their Little Smiling Faces
The bright colorful pansy is such a pretty happy flower, I just love them.
They bloom in just about every hue and color combination of the rainbow, in the most amazing varieties.
Every time I see a pansy, I can see their little smiling faces within the markings of the flower, and they make me smile.
I plant baskets and pots full of pansies every spring. The hardest part about the annual planting of pansies is selecting the color combinations that I want to put together. With so many colors to choose from, and only so much space, the decision is a hard one every year.
The Pansy Has Many Fans
The Pansy is one of the oldest flowers to be found in a typical English flower garden.
I am sure that the pansy has many more admirers that just me because you can find representatives of the pansy everywhere and in every medium.
There are hundreds if not thousands of embroidery, crochet and knitting patterns which have been created in the likeness of pansies.
Every year new pansy China patterns are born, along with new pottery creations. Pansies are embroidered and printed on linens, turned into coasters and paperweights; printed and woven into textile and clothing prints, and designed into fashionable pansy jewelry; just to name a few.
Artist love to paint them, manufacturers love to reproduce them, gardeners like myself love to grow them and foodist love to eat them.
Nothing will cheer me up from the winter blues like the smiling faces of pansies in the spring.
Pansies Are Hybrids of the Viola
Pansies, violets, violas, and violettas are hybrids originally of the VIOLA genus. Usually, but not always, the Pansy must have a blotch.
The blotch is a concentration of the rays that form the dark velvety face of the bloom.The Viola will usually have some rays, but not such a dense concentration as to form a blotch.
There are now so many hybrid varieties, that nobody other than a horticulturist or a botanist really cares about all the genus differences.
As weekend gardeners, it is good enough for us to know that the flowers are often tri-colored with the blotches forming little faces in the center of the flower.
The "field pansies", or "Johnny Jump-ups", are called so because of their ability to seed themselves by dropping seeds and sowing itself.
People observed that they seemed to "jump up" everywhere as soon as they are mowed down, and it seems as though every few days, more of them would jump back up than were there the day before.
Johnny Jump Up PansyThey are often called "Heartsease" in England because of their healing qualities.
Johnny Jump-ups are very sweet little violet-like pansies that are smaller than a cultivated pansy. They bloom in three color varieties including purple, white, and yellow. Violets are usually purple.
What is Your Favorite Spring Flower?
A quality wire container hanging basket lined with real, living, long-grained sphagnum moss.
Growing Pansies in Hanging Containers
Every spring I plant pansies in hanging container baskets and pots. Below you can see photos of the process that I use.
I also found a video on YouTube, that you can watch below, that shows you the same way that I plant my pansy baskets after making my selections of starter plants at the nursery.
The easiest way for a beginner to get started planting baskets of pansies is to buy hanging baskets that come already pre-lined with either the moss or fiber.
Then each year, you can reuse the baskets by relining them with a new batch of moss or fiber.
I always line my hanging baskets with a liner made of either sphagnum moss or coconut fiber as the base to hold in the moisture of my potting soil medium and you will see why in the video.
Once you have selected your new baskets, potting soil, and plants, follow my instructions and watch the video instructions to learn how easy it is to plant your own container of happiness.
Planting a Pansy Basket is So Easy
Step #1 - Selecting a Hanging Basket
Find a Hanging Basket to Coordinate with Your Decor
There are probably as many style design varieties of hanging planter baskets as there are gardeners.
Select a pair or more of hanging baskets you find aesthetically pleasing to coordinate with your outdoor décor.
Personally, I prefer wire baskets and I really like these antique Victorian style wrought iron hanging planter baskets myself.
I love their antique mint green patina and am thinking about getting several of them myself this coming spring. All three of these baskets will coordinate nicely together outdoors or hanging from a patio or deck.
Right now I already have a half dozen or so wire baskets and probably don't really need any more, but I do really, really like this one.
Step #2 Selecting Plants
How to Successfully Pick Starter Plants
When purchasing pansy starter plants from local nurseries, it is important to pick out the healthiest plants that you can find. Be sure that the starter plants have healthy green leaves and stems.
If they are long, spindly and stretched out don't buy them. Once pansies have stretched out in their shelf packs, they will never do very well when planted.
Pick plants with tight, compact green leaves without blooms, or just beginning to bud. This means that the plants are younger plants which will have an excellent chance of surviving for longer periods.
Pull the plant out of the shelf pack to have a look at the root system too. The way to do this is to turn the plant container on its side, tap the contain against something hard. While holding the foliage in one hand, gently pull the plant out of the pot, and rest the root ball gently in your palm to have a look.
In the photo to the right, there are 3 examples of what the root ball may look like. Moving from left to right, which photo has the best root system?
The example in the middle is the correct answer. The photo on the left has roots that are too overgrown and compacted while the plant on the right hasn't produced enough roots yet. The perfect root system for a pansy plant will keep the potting medium neatly together but isn't a thick, tangled mass of roots.
If the potting medium crumbles and falls apart, the plant doesn't yet have enough roots developed to transplant from the starting pot to a larger pot or in the ground.
Buying plants too young means they will have to stay in their shelf packs to establish a root system which may or may not ever happen. Probably not.
If you forgot to look at the roots before making your purchase and you get home only to discover that the roots are a matted mess like the plant on left in the photo, all is not lost.
All you need to do is gently tease the roots loose and pull out away from the mass to make it easier for the roots to feed. Tease and pull the roots apart on all four sides and from the bottom.
Step #3 - Purchase Potting Soil & Sphagnum Moss
What Kind of Potting Soil Should I Use for Pansies?
I recommend buying Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Soil and sphagnum moss. Any brand of moss is fine, but I do strongly recommend only using Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix.
I have tried just about every brand of potting soil on the market and always go back to Miracle-Gro Moisture Control. It has been a product that always gets superior results for me. I have found the only thing superior to Miracle-Gro is homemade potting soil.
I must recommend to only use it for outdoor container plants. I do not like it for indoor plants as it acts as a gnat and fruit fly magnet inside the house.
This past year I noticed that Miracle-Gro has finally come out with an organic potting soil. I will give it a try this year.
I prefer using sphagnum moss the best because I feel it gives superior moisture retention, insulation and drainage for my pansies.
However, they are now saying sphagnum moss is no longer ecologically responsible so I have been experimenting with the coconut fiber.
I do not like the copra lining as well as the moss, only because they dry out more rapidly, they deteriorate quicker and they don't hold their shape as well.
There is a solution to this problem. Watch the next video and see how the coconut fiber liners are prepared for use.
Soaking the Sphagnum Moss
Fill a bucket or a large stainless steel bowl with water, add the moss and allow to soak so that the moss can absorb the water. Sphagnum moss acts just like a giant sponge. It comes out of the bag looking like dried seaweed. It soaks up the water and holds itin to keep the feet of the plant roots moist.
Start the lining of the basket by taking a handful of moss and squeezing out the excess water. Press the moss onto the wire, adding handfuls as you work your way around; overlapping each handful to form the basket lining.
Keep adding handfuls of moss, pressing together, as you build up the side walls of the basket. Continue overlapping the moss covering the top edge of the wire basket as you go. The basket will look very similar to a bird's nest.
Next prepare with more soil for planting
- First line the bottom and sides of the basket with the potting soil.
- Then fill the bottom of the basket half-way up with more potting soil; about the depth of the plant plugs you have purchased.
- Add your plants to the soil by nestling into the soil and arranging the way you like them.
- I like to put one plant in the center then surround the center plant with an odd number of plants; either 3 or 5 depending on the size of your basket. Don't try to squeeze in too many plants. Leave room for them to grow.
- Add more potting soil around the plants, covering the tops of the dirt of each flower plug and pat down gently.
- Water and hang.
The flowers will grow and fill in, in about a weeks time. Remember to deadhead the blossoms by pinching them off. Keep in mind that the more spent blossoms you remove, the more flowers the plants will produce.
2 Weeks Later
Single Bloom from the Hanging Basket
Planting Pansies in the Fall
Hardy winter variety pansies can be planted in the fall with fabulous results.
Look in your local nursery for icebox varieties. Use the same criteria which you used for the spring plantings, but these pansies can only be planted in the ground. They don't winter over very well if planted in baskets or pots.
Plant the winter hardy varieties in September. They may look awful during the winter and they might even be completely covered with snow, but they will pop right up in the spring and put on a lavish display.
If you are planning on planting tulip bulbs in the fall, the pansies can be planted right on top of the bulb plantings.
In the spring the tulips will come up first and the pansies will begin blooming once the tulips are spent.