It was heaven yesterday in Grumpy's garden. Sunny, mid-70's, not a hint of humidity. The perfect day for being out in the garden. And the perfect day for planting pansies.

Pansies and their petite cousins, violas, are the most popular cool-weather flowers for the South. With good reason. They give you months of color after frost has toasted your coleus, zinnias, marigolds, and other warm-weather flowers. But don't wait until it's cold to plant pansies. Get them in the ground now, so their roots can spread and the plants get established before it turns really cold. That way, you'll get flowers from fall through spring.

Try the New Trailing Pansies Every time Grumpy starts setting out flowers, his wife asks the same annoying question. "Will they spread and fill in?" She can't stand the sight of bare soil. Well, now we have spreading pansies that really do fill in. Instead of growing up, they grow out. Each plant can cover a square-foot. Which means you need half as many pansies as you're used to planting. Or use the same number and get twice the color.

Just be careful when planting the trailers in hanging baskets and pots. Plant half as many as you usually do or they'll literally push each other out of the container.

Two Names to Look For Grumpy just finished planting some Cool Wave pansies. These are an improved and renamed version of the Plentifall pansies I raved about last year. They come in yellow, blue, purple, white, and bicolors. I love them for the following 3 reasons.

  1. They spread vigorously.
  2. They're very weather-tolerant and cold-hardy and pretty much bloom anytime the temperature hits 40 degrees.
  3. Unlike other pansies that stop blooming during short winter days, these pansies bloom all winter.

Also keep an eye out for the new WonderFall trailing pansies. They're a lot like the Cool Waves, but also offer colors of pink and red.

Planting Tips Care for these pansies is pretty simple. Plant them in fertile, well-drained soil. They bloom best in full sun, but Grumpy finds they'll bloom with half-day sun too. To get them going strong, give each a drink of liquid fertilizer at planting time and then once a week through October. Miracle-Gro works well, but if you prefer the organic route, try Annie Haven's Moo-Poo Tea. Mulch around the plants at planting, so the spreading foliage can cover the mulch and keep the roots cool and moist. Note that you can't order these pansies through the mail. Ask for them at your garden center.

Now hop to it!