Rise to glory

Potted up the first pansies on St. Patrick’s Day (Monday). Mom’s favorites are blues and yellows, so, in a benevolent mood, I searched the nursery for hybrids of the purest solid blue-yellow colors. One window box on the porch, one pot in the garden. (Photo above is our "Delta Blue Ice," on a windy day, March 20. A lovely, clear-faced, blue-violet pansy.) Pansies are hands-down the harbinger of spring. As soon as they appear in nurseries and markets (sometimes too early in the season), you know spring is right behind them. They’re cold hardy, and it’s a good idea to keep them outdoors during the day no matter how cold it gets now. But at night, frost will “burn” the leaves and stunt growth, so be on the alert, at least until April. Pansies that receive adequate sun will grow to heights of 6 to 9 inches, and will spread 9 to 12 inches. To allow for the spread, seedlings should be planted 6 to 12 inches apart, depending upon the size of the variety being planted. Pansies prefer rich soil with good drainage. Fertilize the soil at the time of planting. Once planted, pansies require little maintenance other than watering and periodic fertilization. Perfect. Tomorrow is the first day of spring!

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