The Pansy, it would seem, is one of the most alluring of all garden flowers. Its little faces make most of us laugh when we look at them. The English have given the Pansy many nicknames, such as Call-meto-you, Love-true, Three-faces-under-a-hood, Pink-eyed-John, Tickle-my-fancy, Bird’s-eye, Jump-up-and-kiss-me, God-father, Godmother, Love-in-idleness, Kiss-me-in-the-buttery, Rob-run-the-street, and Heartsease. With such names, it is not strange that the French call it pensee, for this word means thoughts. Yet with all the Pansies’ charms, there are some persons who do not grow them
Where to Plant. Why speak of the use of Pansies? Everyone knows their garden value and their interest when arranged in a low bowl for the table. Plant a few Browallias among the Pansies and note the charming effect. Pansies are also interesting when planted in a bed of such bulbs as Tulips, Snowdrops, Crocus and Narcissi. Just as the bulbs finish blooming the Pansies will be at their best.
GENERAL. The best, largest, most attractively colored Pansies are the only ones we should grow, although seed of such sorts is a little more expensive than ordinary Pansy seed.
Late Summer sowing. When Pansy seed is sown in August, the plants will bloom in the early Spring. A Pansy breeder of wide reputation, suggests The following points about sowing seed:
1. Have your soil perfectly clean, free of weeds and trash, and pulverized to a depth of six or more inches.
2. On the level surface spread evenly a layer of pulverized manure, barnyard scrapings preferred, to a depth of at least one inch.
3. Overlay manure with one-half inch of the best soil you have, thoroughly pulverized. To prevent damping-off it is wise to treat the soil with Semesan.
4. Roll or rake down and tamp surface true and smooth.
5. Use the hose freely and soak down the bed several inches.
6. Sow your seed in drills or broadcast.
7. Cover as lightly as possible. Sand, peat moss and soil are used. Peat moss retains the moisture very well.
8. Use a fine spray of water to moisten surface.
9. Allowing plenty of ventilation, keep your beds moist, quite moist, but not soaking wet, until plants come up.
10. Unbleached sheeting of the cheapest grade is good to retain moisture. As soon as the plants begin to come through freely, the sheeting should be removed permanently, and on the tops of the beds may be sifted a thin layer of barnyard scrapings.
Spring sowing. If Pansy seed is sown in early Spring the plants will bloom in the Summer. The flowers will be small at first, but will become larger as the weather gets cooler.
A few facts about Pansy seed. Pansy seed is good for only nine months; old seed will not germinate properly.
When the temperature is above 70 deg., Pansy seed will not germinate. It prefers cool weather.
There are 25,000 to 28,000 seeds in an ounce, which will sow 300 feet of drill. The late Mr. Chas. Frost, a specialist, says that growers allow 1 ounce of seed for 4000 plants, but that with care 7000 to 8000 plants should be raised. We seldom get a high percentage of germination.
Generally the largest flowers of the rarest colors are found upon plants which have grown from seed that germinates slowly. The better varieties are shy seed bearers and for this reason good Pansy seed is always expensive.
Transplanting. The tiny Pansy plants should be transplanted when they have produced a few of their true leaves. Set them 4 inches apart in a coldframe if the seeds were sown in the Fall. Seeds sown in the open in Spring should be transplanted from the seed bed directly to the garden border. All too frequently transplanting results in smaller flowers.
Protection for Winter. After the ground is thoroughly frozen, the Pansies should receive some protection. Note that the advice is to protect them after the soil has frozen, the object being to keep it frozen and to prevent the plants from being heaved by alternate freezing and thawing. The best protection is afforded by using straw and a hotbed sash, but many persons do not grow enough Pansies to make them think that they can afford the hotbed sash. As a matter of fact, it is not necessary, but useful. If sash is not used, cover the plants with some fine tree branches, and upon them throw some coarse garden litter or leaves. The branches will prevent rain and snow from packing the leaves too tightly over the plants. Water standing upon Pansies through the Winter will be fatal to them.
Blooming Plants. Pansies are not hot weather plants, but if one removes all the flowers as fast as they fade so that seeding is prevented, they will bloom rather well in half-shaded places. They will not succeed at all, however, in dense shade.
When the plants show a tendency to produce runners, and the branches become long, they may be cut back, whereupon the plant will branch out and produce another crop of bloom.
Commercial Shipping of Plants. Mr. Steele remarks relative to successful packing and shipping:
For the commercial grower of seedlings the successful shipping of them is second in importance to growing them.
1. Do not send out any plants with less than five leaves, not counting the two initial leaves, first, because they do not stand up for a long distance trip, and, second, even if they do arrive in fair condition, they lack the strength of larger plants and, therefore, do not grow to the satisfaction of the buyer. Yes, you can sell cheap, attenuated seedlings, but you cannot build up a business by so doing.
2. Do not ship seedlings over 500 miles until they are hardened off by a few chilly days and frosty nights. It means almost certain loss.
3. Do not bunch your plants in paper wrappings for distances over 200 miles. Ordinary paper used in that way gathers moisture, a fermentation starts, the plants heat and then rot.
4. Do not pack your plants in horizontal layers.
5. Do not crowd your plants by packing tightly.
6. Do not allow moisture on plants and little, if any, on roots.
Plants, when lifted for shipping should be cool, with no moisture on the tops. Even if roots are wet, they should be thinly spread in a dry, cool place, turning them over gently and shaking roots entirely free from dirt. When tops are dry and roots are taking on a light color from drying and when, in handling the plants, the dirt no longer clings to your fingers, your plants are ready for packing.
Use a light, strong box from four to five inches high. We buy spruce box ends, half inch thick and of above width, in strips and cut them to proper size of box made to hold, say, 1000 plants. All sides tops and bottoms are three-sixteenths inch, mill cut to twenty-six inches. Thus we have a box four to five inches high, twelve inches wide, more or less, and twenty-six inches long, holding about 1000 plants and made as tight and snug as possible.
Line the box first with double newspaper and then with oil paper, well up on sides and ends. It is now ready for the moss.
The greatest possible danger lies in improper moistening of moss. It should never be wet, but always moist-barely moist.
With cool moss, no lumps, carefully carpet bottom of box one or more inches in thickness, sufficient to bring plants in vertical layers, so that tops will reach to within half-inch of top when nailed on, and for ventilation.
Overlay the top of the box with oil paper, about four inches wider than width of box; next a double newspaper of same width, both cut long enough to nail down under top which should come flush with sides to make shipment snug and strengthen top. Do not crowd your plants, and do not leave them loose enough so they will scramble. After your plants are packed, pick up your box with a jerk endwise, and if your plants move back and forth slightly, your packing is well done. Midway between the ends, run a stout, strong cord twice around box, and snub up tightly, tying on the corner of box and leaving long enough ends to tie on your shipping tag. Always mail your invoice under separate cover, to serve notice that shipment is on the way. Your shipment is then ready to travel across the continent safely.