karen_lahrNovember 24, 2007


This year we started several flats of Panseys from seed. They came up great and we moved them outside in October. They are wonderfully green, but only one has produced a flower. Can anyone explain why this happens and what we can/shoud do about it..??

Karen in Maryland

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hopflower(z8/z15 CA Sunset)

Perhaps they need a bit of food in order to encourage blooming; also although pansies like it cooler, they do tend to go into dormancy when too cold. They are annuals and need to be planted each year; but occasionally they will overwinter in mild winter climates. Give them food and water when they first awaken and it is warmer; they will reward you amply!

If your house is light and cool enough in certain places they will overwinter indoors as well. You might consider this and pot some up.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 11:09AM
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In my zone they are grown as winter bedding plant blooming from now until June when the warm weather stops them. I think that your climate is too cold for winter growth. Al

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 1:22PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Pansies take a very long time to bloom from seed. We use them as winter bedding here too (all over the state! Gas stations, even!). Every year, I have alot of volunteers from seed that come up in November. They rarely bloom before April. To use as winter bedding, I think you have to start the seeds in early to mid summer. I plan to do just that next year. Did you have a high germination rate? Did you put them in darkness before they germinated? I would be interested to hear from anyone who has grown pansy successfully from seed.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 7:29PM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

I too have contemplated starting some pansies from seed this year. My understanding is to start them in Dec/Feb and put them out March/April (I'd like color/flowers from April to May 15th before I put out my regular annuals). I've had them 'come back' in a previous yard in zone 5 - with a good mulching of leaves - in fact, they seemed to stay green under all the leaves and snow and when pulled back they bloomed - died the following year (did not re-seed). THAT being said - I'm interested in trying to start them via seed.

Anyone have any Johnny-Jump-Up experience? I've had people tell me they can be tough to get rid of...?? Anyone? Good/Bad indifferent?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 3:12PM
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Unless you have a terrible winter situation in MD, the pansies should winter over. Maybe a little mulch if there is not good snow cover. You didn't say when seeded. You might have needed them in the ground earlier than October to have more fall bloom. You'll probably have some of the earliest come spring.

The time was that many pansies were started in late summer, then wintered over in a cold frame. They were dug in the spring for planting as soon as the ground was fit. I remember going to a greenhouse where the plants were hand dug to order and wrapped in newspaper for the trip home. (Times have changed!!) Plants generally fizzled out come mid summer. Most newer varieties and hybrids are more heat tolerant so persist longer.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 5:59PM
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hopflower(z8/z15 CA Sunset)

Johnny-Jump-Ups belong to the same family. Their growing is the same, really. I may start some of them, too, this year. It has been a while since I had any.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 11:42AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Johnny Jump Ups re-seed prolifically here (as do pansies, but the pansies are hybrids, & don't come true from seed. JJUs are not hybrids, so they do.). Some JJUs will come up through a pretty heavy mulch. No mulch, LOTS of volunteers. They usually come up in November, as night temperatures fall into the 40s and 50s, and day temps average from 60 to 75. They grow all winter, and bloom in the spring until temps start hitting regularly into the 80s. Then, they burn out till next year. I cannot imagine calling them a nuisance. They have naturalized among my daylilies, which are interplanted with daffodils. These, paired with the pansies, make a wonderful spring show which ends as the daylilies start to bloom. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tom, I am trying to learn all I can about starting pansies from seed. Here's what I have gleaned so far: They need cool temperatures (60 to 75 degrees) and darkness in order to germinate. I recently read that they take approximately 90 days from germination to first bloom. Germination can take about two weeks. My experience with nursery grown plants tells me that if you plant them as temps cool, and provide them with good soil and a mild fertilizer, they take right off from pretty small plants. What they hate is hot days.(mid 80s and up) This will cause them to get leggy, turn yellow, and even die. In our area, that's what they do in late spring as summer temps come.

My plan, thus far, is to start mine about mid July here (two weeks for germination, plus 90 days before my target planting out date of early November). I will sow seeds into flats, water them thoroughly, drain them well, and put the flats inside clear rubbermaid boxes (upside down). This will hold in humidity. (Plastic bags will work too.)If you use the low boxes, you could slide them under beds in an air conditioned bedroom until germination. Fortunately for me, I have an un-heated basement, which, I hope, will provide nearly ideal conditions: dark and cool. I have shelves down there with fluorescent lights, so I plan to grow them on down there after germination until cool weather begins (usually mid October), when I will move them on outside (after hardening off, of course). I had my first good success with seed-starting last winter, and I credit it to 1) not starting the seeds too early, 2) sowing the seeds into bigger containers than I had before, so their roots have room to spread and go deeply, 3)following the directions on the seed packets very carefully AND 4) the bi-weekly use of fish emulsion. I started feeding the tiny seedlings with half-strength fish emulsion once their first set of true leaves appeared, and continued that regimen until I set them out in the ground. The results were quite spectacular (for me). My prior attempts at seed-starting had been dismal (translated a waste of money and time). It was a great boost of confidence for me!

My hesitancy in starting pansies from seed before is the cost of the seed, as well as the pitiful plants I ended up with. Small seed packets were so costly, that by the time you take into account the seeds that don't germinate, the savings over nursery grown transplants weren't that great. But someone on this forum recommended a wholesale seed company on the internet that doesn't require a minimum order. They sell seeds of one type of pansy in lots of 250 or 1,000. A thousand seeds runs about $30. I planted 20 flats of pansies this fall at $12 a flat. You do the math. (I'm afraid to!) Anyway, if you're interested I'll find the site and post it here. I cannot, at this moment recall the name of it.

If anyone wants to comment on my plan or add to my paltry store of knowledge here, please feel free! I want to learn all I can before I jump into this project.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 10:27PM
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donnabaskets, your description of pansy seed starting is very good. Hazzard Wholesale Seeds is probably the seed source. I won't do the math as we all know as gardeners we love the work and so it does not count as work. Locally the competition of nursery growers makes sixpac size pansies so cheap by the flat that I don't grow those that are readily available. Usually I will pot up to 4 inch pots and grow on till well rooted before planting in the garden. Each pot gets one half teaspoon 18-6-12 time release fertilizer to carry it through till planting. Fish emulsion fertilizer is very good and I would use it but it drives the raccoons wild and they did it up. Al

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 9:06AM
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hopflower(z8/z15 CA Sunset)

Yes, it is. But you are in error when you say that they are not hybrids. There are indeed some hybrids in Johnny- Jump-Ups. There is a traditional one, and some newer colour strains.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 7:48PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

There's the difference between latin names and common names. You never know if you are talking about the same thing. I am assuming that the johnnys I have, which are the traditional purple/yellow faces, are not hybrids since they have always come true from seed. I have had hybrid pansies volunteer, and sometimes the plants that come back look like violas (though not what I call Johnny jump ups.) to me. They usually come true thereafter. Some are very nice.
Al, I have had similar experiences with fish emulsion outside. Last spring, I planted annuals in window boxes on my very high deck, then gave them a fish drink to get them started. The very next morning, every single plant was dug up, and the pots were full of paw prints. We have so many critters, there's no telling what it was. I have pretty well stopped using it except inside the house, (My husband HATES the smell, so this year it will probably be confined to the basement) and in self watering planters where critters can't get to it. It is great for baby seedlings. Thanks for the encouragement on how to start pansies from seeds. I will keep the time relased fertilizer in mind.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 4:49PM
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hopflower(z8/z15 CA Sunset)

Exactly. That is why I encourage people to use the botanical names for plants but people usually feel as though I am trying to show off; which I am not. However, if a lot of people are not used to using them, I suppose it could look that way. I was taught to use the botanical names (Latin, if you prefer; although most of them are, some are Greek) so that one would be clear on what one is discussing. I did not see the botanical name used in this discussion; perhaps I missed it while reading quickly.

There are indeed hybrid Johnny-Jump-Ups. There is also the original and is so coloured as you describe. Some of the hybrids are close in some of their colour combinations. Whatever, they are indeed a charming little flower.

Isn't fish emulsion amazing?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 12:12PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I had never used fish emulsion until last year, and it is, indeed, amazing.

Learning botanical names is a fairly new thing for me too, though I have been gardening for more than twenty years. I read Pamela Harper's book, "Thirty Years in a Four Season Garden" and fell in love with the plants she described. It was the first book I found that was written for southern gardeners that went beyond azaleas, camellias, etc. She virtually refuses to use common names, stating that if you can learn rhinoceros, you can learn Xanthosoma (ONE type of at least four quite different plants that are commonly called elephant ears). That made sense to me, and, I wanted to be able to "de-code" her book. So, for an entire winter, I pored over her books in the evenings, with my Southern Living Gardening Book close at hand, which served as a cross-reference. When I couldn't recognize the latin (Oops, botanical), I would look it up in SLGB. Sure enough, the names began to stick, and now, I tend to remember the botanical name first and have to search my head for the common name. (Now, if I have to pronounce them, I'm sure I cause alot of smiles, but still, I can communicate.) No one is showing off. We're just communicating in such a way that everyone can know exactly what plant we're referring to. A salvia is not a salvia is not a salvia! Stating its scientific name is the only way to communicate specifically!
Every hobby has it's own language. If you sew, you have to learn alot of terms too: basting, bias, easing, etc. Cooking the same. Gardening is no different. For the most part, I have found that the folks that contribute regularly to these forums are REALLY knowledgeable! For all I know, half of them have horticulture training. If so, great. I want to learn all I can! One thing's for sure, hopflower. You don't need to be embarassed for what you know. It's not the kind of knowledge that is just blowing in the wind. And I, for one, am glad to learn something new: such as learning that all botanical names are not latin. I had no clue, but now I do. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 11:21PM
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hopflower(z8/z15 CA Sunset)

Agreed completely; and I am glad now someone understands me. :)

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 9:53AM
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If you get any warm snaps from now through winter up there in Maryland, take that opportunity to fertilize with a bloom boosting liquid fertilizer. I'm not sure if you have many warm ups during winter, but here in NC we get them, and throwing away the conventional wisdom of not fertilizing during the winter makes for more blooms during winter and spectacular spring pansy displays. midnight

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 9:19AM
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The one thing I can add about pansies is they are pigs for food. They are the only plant I know that responds better to fertilizing every two weeks during blooming (except for brugmansia and roses).

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 3:32PM
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I keep my pansy seed in the frig for at least a week before seeding. They stay in the frig until the flats are completely ready. I mist with a cool water within the first 2 minutes of being out of the frig.

I try to keep the flats below 75 degrees for the first day and then let them warm to almost 80. I hold them dark for the first 4-5 days, then give light. I usually get seedlings by the 8th day, sometimes as short as 6.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 9:31PM
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