Plant Black Pansies: Boo!

Lynn Coulter
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Difficulty: Beginner

black pansies, Ball Horticultural

 

This fall, put a new twist on your garden plot and add some black to your landscape. Inky pansies make fun decorations for Halloween, and after the holiday, their dark petals add an unexpected beauty to beds and borders. Pansies wilt when a frost or freeze hits, but only temporarily. If your winter is mild, they’ll bloom from autumn all the way into spring.

Admittedly, most so-called black flowers aren’t really black. It’s rare to find a true black blossom in nature, although growers keep working to develop sooty tulips, roses, petunias, and other plants. Most dark blooms are actually smoky red or purple, deep maroon, mahogany, burgundy, or chocolate brown. If you think black flowers are weird or offbeat, consider that gardening on the “dark side” is just a different way of thinking about what’s beautiful. Every wardrobe needs a basic black garment to accessorize. In the garden, you can “dress up” black pansies with other plants, or simply enjoy them for themselves.

SKILL LEVEL

Easy

TIME REQUIRED

30 minutes for a container or small flowerbed

TOOLS

Trowel

Watering can

MATERIALS

Pansies

Fertilizer

Soil amendments

Optional: Pumpkin, planter or basket

Optional: Halloween picks from craft stores

Optional: Twigs or other natural accents

Optional: spray paint

pansies in basket

 

How to Grow Pansies

1. Pansie are winter-hardy plants that add color to your landscape in fall and spring, and bloom even through the winter in mild climates. Although they dislike high temperatures, they prefer a location that receives full sun. To accommodate them, wait until fall’s cooler temperatures arrive before you plant. If you live in a warm climate, your pansies will flower reliably into spring, even if a cold snap makes them droop temporarily. In colder areas, protect your pansies with a layer of evergreen branches or straw. Remove the mulch in spring, and the flower show will soon begin.

2. Pansies need humus-rich soil that drains easily, so if needed, work in amendments to improve your soil and drainage. This is especially important in areas that get ice and snow, because pansies will rot if they stand in puddles of melted water.

3. Space the plants about 7″ to 12″ apart, and firm the soil gently around them. To avoid root or crown rot, don’t plant so deeply that the stems or crowns are buried. Water the plants after planting, to eliminate any pockets that might cause the roots to dry out.

4. Feed the pansies with Miracle-Gro 15-30-15 Bloom Booster, available in Home Depot stores, or a general, all-purpose fertilizer. Pinch off the blossoms as they fade to encourage more flowers.

 Boo-tiful Decorations: Using Pansies For Halloween

Try some of these ideas for decorating with pansies this season:

black and orange pansies

  • Put one pansy plant in each of several mini pumpkins, and arrange them on a tabletop, bookshelf, or sideboard. Add some flickering, battery-powered tea lights to the scene and dim the lamps for spooky party fun.
  • Mix orange and black pansies in containers for the holiday. White and black pansies also work well for a Halloween theme. Add interesting twigs and gnarled branches from the yard, or decorative picks in accent colors, purchased from a craft store.
  • Combine jewel-toned mums and dahlias in bronze, scarlet, or gold with black pansies. Add colorful fall leaves, if desired.
  • Wind vines studded with berries around the base of planters filled with black pansies. Orange bittersweet berries are a good choice.
  • Spray paint a pumpkin silver, bronze, or gold. Sprinkle it with glitter, if you wish, before the paint dries. Hollow out the pumpkin and drop in a plastic pot filled with pansies.

Images: Ball Horticultural Co.

 

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