Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pansies from Seed

Pansies are definitely in my top ten favorite flowers! I always have a few pots of them growing in the spring and early summer, until it gets too hot for them here. This was my first year to grow them from seed, and I have been quite pleased with the results! However, one thing I would do differently is to start them earlier. Pansies generally take around 12 weeks from seed to bloom. Mine were started the last week in January, when I received my seed, so didn't bloom until early May. My goal is to get them to flower by early April, so I can enjoy them longer! In order to do that , I'm thinking I should start them at least by the first of the year. Some sources say to chill for 2 weeks after sowing and the ones I did this with did germinate faster. (So now my starting date is pushed back into December!) The dilemma is that Pansy seed is not reliably viable after one year, and the seed catalogs don't usually come out until sometime in January, so by the time I get my fresh seed, I am already behind schedule! I am considering the following options:

1. Save and plant seed from this year's pansies. The types I grew are all F1 hybrids, however, so offspring may or may not come back true. It might be fun to experiment and see just how many flowers come true and how many revert to characteristics of the parent plants. Not sure I want to spend 12 weeks on an experiment, though!

2. Buy extra commercial seeds, then seal and store in the freezer, so they will already be pre-chilled for next year. Sow heavier to make up for the older seed, and hope they germinate!

3. Try an open pollinated type called Historic Florist Mix from Select Seeds, my favorite heirloom flower seed catalog. The description reads,
"These sprightly smaller pansies with expressive whiskery faces and a light sweet fragrance are just what you are looking for if the six pack specials of huge floppy sort just don't tickle your fancy. Called tufted pansies way back in the 1800's."
These do have the cutest whiskered faces! But the flowers are smaller as they are actually Violas. I could save seeds from these from year to year without having them revert to something different. But,.....violas take even longer to bloom, from 14-16 weeks! These may self-sow as most violas do, but may not bloom as early as I would like them to.

4. Winter Sow the seeds. (See previous post on Winter Sowing. ) Not sure that this method would yield the early blooms I am wanting, either. I did winter sow some Violas this year and they bloomed a couple weeks after my pansies.

So we shall see....maybe I will try all of the above and see what works best to give me a longer bloom time for this favorite flower!

This pansy is called 'Denim Blue'. It is a color selection from the Baby Bingo series.

'Maxim Marina' Pansy growing in a favorite old yellow enamelware pot. I have affectionately nicknamed it Old Yeller. My dear daughter has been known to covet this beloved old pot, and even asked me once if she could have it. Of course, I said "Yes,........ I will leave it to you in my will!"

Cute whiskered face of 'Ultima Morpho' Pansy, a Mid-blue and soft yellow bi-color. (The first photo in this post is this type, as well.) They vary a bit from plant to plant in the color of the flowers, some having more white than yellow. These subtle differences make them even more interesting and appealing!


Carol Michel said...

I like the little violas from seed, too, but have the same problem you had, I can't seem to get the seeds to start them early enough. And then in March, I see plants at the garden center all blooming, so end up buying those!

Fairlightday said...

What if you shop for your seeds online in Nov./Dec? Even though the catalogs aren't out yet, you could still find what you are looking for and buy them when you need them. Just a thought. :) I love pansies too, but have never thought to start them from seed. It get warm so early here I think I would need to start mine in late Oct. But I think I will be a little too busy this October to care. :) Have a wonderful day Mrs. Connie!

Chelle said...

So mom, I really don't want your pretty yellow enamel pot that badly, at least not for decades and decades down the road...


Colleen Vanderlinden said...

That 'Maxim Marina' in the yellow enamelware is just gorgeous!

I found your blog through the Garden Bloggers Book Club post...I'll definitely be back :-)

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

It's obvious that you love pansies/violets as much as I do. :-)

Some of them I grow from seed, others I buy because there are many that are totally irresistable.

We have something else in common: sugar snaps! Soon it will be harvest time! Yummy!

Anonymous said...

Oh experiment! Experiment! If you're worried, have a backup plan but Experiment! That's what dreams are made of!

Kathi said...

You make me want to try and start flowers from seeds.

Lizzil32 said...

I picked a seed pod from a pot of pansies on my patio. I'm wondering if you know whether or not I can pop open this pod and replant right away or do I need to let the seeds dry, and chill in the refrigerator for a summer planting to bloom in fall?