Pansy Seedlings - Knowledgebase Question

Brick, NJ
Avatar for rswdwkr
Question by rswdwkr
February 21, 1998
I do not seem to have much success with growing pansy seedlings. Maybe I'm not doing it right. Can you please tell me what the correct procedure is for growing most pansies from seed? I think my mistake was to put the seedlings under lights. I read one of the answers to a similar question and it said most pansies do not require a lot of light. Another problem I having is that the soil seems to be drying out fast, I don't want to overwater them. I think the first planting cannot be saved but I just planted another tray
and I would like to stay on top of these. Do primrose need the same procedure?

Answer from NGA
February 21, 1998
Pansy seeds do germinate best in the dark with a soil temperature of 60-70 degrees. I go so far as to cover the seed flats with newspaper until the seeds germinate--this helps exclude light and holds in soil moisture. They should also be sown very shallowly--just barely cover the seeds with fine soil.

I think the confusion about their light requirements comes from the fact that pansies need darkness to germinate--but once they are germinated they need light to grow. So check the pots every day, and as soon as you see sprouts, put the pots under fluorescent lights.

Regarding watering, try bottom watering. You never want your soil to dry out, but it is even worse to have it get soggy. You are looking for lightly moist. When the soil looks like it is beginning to dry out (often you can tell because the surface appears a lighter color) set the pots in a shallow tray of warm water. When the surface of the soil is moist (dark in color) then remove from the tray and allow to drain.

Out in the garden, pansies can take part shade in hot regions--in your region try to give them very light shade to full sun for best flowering. They prefer cooler weather, so you may find that they flower best in spring and fall, with fewer flowers in the heat of mid-summer.

Seeds for hardy primroses will germinate better if chilled in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks. Greenhouse varieties don't need this chilling. Primroses need light to germinate, so don't cover the seeds. They also prefer cool soil conditions (60-70F) and can take quite some time to germinate, usually 21 to 40 days, but up to 80 days is not uncommon.

Good luck!

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