Pansies and Violas in Alabama
The Southeastern climate can be a challenge for growing pansies and violas in the Fall. Temperatures can vary wildly from one day to the next. Waiting until the soil begins to cool is best for optimal root growth. It can take several nights below 60’s and days below 80’s to cool the soil enough. Heat and over-watering can lead to root rot and crown rot. Avoid excessive amounts of water and allow plants to dry out between watering. Well maintained pansy and viola plantings can provide color from October to April in Alabama.
Choosing the Right Pansy or Viola
Pansies and violas come in a wide array of colors and sizes. Colors range from azure to zutem and every color in-between. Some are two-tone, some have blotch faces and others are clear. Large bloom, pansy, types usually have less blooms and are better suited for walk-by color than drive-by. Smaller bloom, viola, types have more blooms, more flower power and better drive-by color appearance.
Plants are available in local garden centers starting in early October. Best plants will have bright green foliage, strong fuzzy roots and few blooms. Too many blooms means the plant has less energy to use during the stressful move to your garden and more susceptible to diseases and pest. Removing the blooms during transplant can help and the plants will quickly recover with new flowers.
Growing Pansies and Violas
Full sun to part shade are excellent for growing pansies and violas. Soil should be loose, well drained with a slightly acidic pH between 5.6 and 5.8. Higher pH can cause iron and other minor element deficiencies. The pansy and violas plants are more dependent on minor elements than most other annuals in your garden. Avoid applying too much phosphorus as this can easily combine with many minor elements and make them unavailable to the plant. Use an acid fertilizer, like Fox Farm Acid Loving 4-5-3 granular, mixed in before or after planting. Then water every other time with Fox Farm Grow Big 6-4-4 liquid feed, 1 tablespoon per gallon.
Deadheading old flowers only takes a few minutes and promotes new flowers. Cutting back old growth, overgrown or leggy plants will also encourage new growth and more area for flower bud formation.
Keys to Success
- Wait until cooler weather – before hard freezes
- Plant in loose, well drained soil
- Avoid over-watering to prevent disease
- Deadhead often to promote new flowers
- Fertilize with liquid feed every other watering