The Q&A Archives: Winter Care Of Pansies In Southern Wisconsin

Question: I am new to any sort of gardnering and I picked up a larger then realized number of Delta Second Season Pansy plants. The information with the plants said they were perennials. However, another source told me that the Wisconsin winter made these plants really an annual. Not knowing what to do I dug up all the plants in late fall that I had planted in Sept. I put them in several open bags in the basement. I am not sure where the seeds are in the plants, and how to replant these seeds, and how and when.

Answer: Many of the new pansies are considered perennial, but it depends on the winter as to whether they really come back. Some will make it through year after year, although a winter with no snow cover may kill them. The best way to get your pansies to survive is to cut them back to three or four inches in late fall and cover them with about four inches of mulch such as shredded leaves after the ground freezes. This prevents the freeze-thaw reaction that damages them the most.

As for your plants in the basement, if they are still alive, I suggest planting them outdoors as soon as you can get a shovel in the ground. If they have seeds, found in dry brown seed pods on the plants, you can collect the seeds and either sow them outdoors in March or plant them indoors in February to grow under lights until the ground thaws. You should be aware, however, that your plants are hybrid pansies, so the seeds will not "come true". In other words, you may get any number of other types of pansy flowers, but will most likely not get flowers like the ones on the original plants. Good luck!

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