Plant Pansies for Kicky Winter Color

Lucy Mercer
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pansies in rainboots 1, courtesy Laura Mercer

* As part of our ongoing Stretch Gardening series, we have invited some of our favorite garden bloggers to contribute to the Garden Club. This week we feature Lucy Mercer of A Cook And Her Books, who stretches her garden color by planting cold-hardy pansies in a pair of used rainboots.*

These boots have seen a lot of mud puddles in the five years or so they’ve been kicking around my house. With their owner now in new boots, it’s time to put them to use in the garden, as planters for pansies. They’re sure to brighten up the dull winter flower bed, stretching color from fall to spring.

This is a fun family project and a teachable moment for young gardeners who get a lesson in re-purposing. Begin with a pair of used boots.

pansies and rainboots 4

If you don’t have an outgrown pair at home, try thrift stores, yard sales and consignment sales for bargain prices and the right amount of “wear.” If the boots are really worn, clean them up a bit by pulling out any lining that may be inside and repairing any significant cracks.

Ask an adult to drill four or so holes in the sole of each boot, being careful not to go through the top of the boot.

making holes in rainboots 5

My handyman husband used a ¼ inch drill bit.

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If you’re thinking of placing the boots in the garden, you may want to place a long anchoring nail through the boot that can be used to stabilize the container through rough winter weather.

And then plant as you could any container.

planting pansies in rainboots 3

This may be a first-time planting project for a young gardener, so use the opportunity to find small rocks for drainage at the bottom of the boot. We sometimes use the seashell fragments brought back from beach vacations.

Add potting mix into the boot, being sure to tamp it down midway to make sure it fills up the boot. Leave about 3 inches from the top of the boot for the flowers. Gently pull pansies from their cell packs and shake loose some of the soil, being sure to “tickle the roots” as West Coast gardeniere Teena Spinder advises.

Fill in remaining gaps with extra potting soil and water.

planting pansies in rainboots

When warmer weather returns, the boots can be planted with annuals such as impatiens and petunias, or perhaps daisies. Please share pictures of your repurposed rain boots on our Garden Club Forum.

For more gardening projects, recipes and family fun, check out my blog, A Cook and Her Books.

Images courtesy of Laura Mercer

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