Pansies: Why the Arboretum Looks Beautiful Even During the Deepest Cold
Pansies are, contrary to their name, one of the hardiest flowers around. And that’s great news if you want to explore the most beautiful place in Dallas after a cold spell.
The pansy is the reigning champion of cool season plants, and the most-planted annual of any seasonal here in North Texas, and with good reason. It is guaranteed to put on a colorful show no matter how cold or wet it might be. Dallas usually enjoys mild winters, but even when it doesn’t, pansies can bounce back from nearly any winter temperature.
History of the Pansy
This flower derives its name from the French word for thought, pansee. As a result, the pansy has been a symbol of thoughtfulness and love for centuries. Initially developed and bred in England in the 19th century, the pansy grew in popularity and spread to the United States within a few decades, becoming immensely popular with growers in here by the turn of the 20th Century due to its beauty and resilience.
We plant pansies everywhere, and it’s happy in pots, planters and flower beds, but you need to plant them at the right time; pansies should be planted when you begin to see the leaves on trees turning colors here in North Texas.
Pansies can survive temperatures in the single digits, but they need to be well established with a good root system before these temperatures arrive. They should be planted about six to ten inches apart in a sunny location to achieve the best bloom performance. They do well in a flower bed under a tree that drops its leaves in the winter, because there will be plenty of winter sun without the leaves. Adding a good all-purpose time release fertilizer at the time of planting will ensure vigorous growth and plenty of flowers. A rich, well drained soil is ideal, and it is important to water the pansies thoroughly before severe cold spells.
Pick Your Pansies
Pansies come in a range of varieties, from those with small, nickel-sized blooms to up to large, palm-size blooms. As a rule, the small flowering types have many more blooms at any given moment. Pansy bloom colors span the color wheel, from black to white, red to orange to yellow, and purple to true blue.
If you need ideas for which pansies to plant in your garden, come see all these colors at the gardens here at the Dallas Arboretum. We test many new varieties each winter in our trial gardens as we hunt for new varieties.
Some of my favorites that we often plant here are: “Nature blue,” “Frizzle Sizzle blue,” and “Freefall deep violet trailing.”
I hope to see you in the garden enjoying watching our pansies recover after even long stretches of bitter, freezing cold!