Thursday, May 10, 2007

Past prime-time pansies?

Here's a slightly different example of the should-it-stay- or-should-it-go dilemma I was musing about in my last post. In this case the problem is more about when than whether or not to make a change.

Last fall I planted a big pot with an assortment of brilliantly colored orange and purple pansies and violas and stuck the whole pot into a blank space in the long leg of the L-shaped bed. They have flowered profusely for months, nipped back a bit by mid-winter freezes but returning stronger than ever. But for the last few weeks, as temperatures have risen, I've known their days are numbered. I'm having to water the pot twice a day now and even so, the plants look droopy most of the time; the stems are lanky, even with my daily pinching off of spent blooms, and the size of the flowers has decreased. I suppose it's time to pull the plants up and replace them with something else, something more suited to the coming heat.

But . . . the flowers are still lovely every morning and are welcome this time of year in the lull between the spring flowers and the onset of the summer bloomers.

Here's what they looked like this morning (a lovely cool morning for this time of May, it must be said).

Complicating matters is the fact that I've already bought the replacements — an opal basil, a Thai basil, and flat-leaf parsley — and they are now languishing in their small plastic pots, waiting — dare I say begging? — for a better situation (I admit it: I jumped the gun but I was sure the pansies were done for when it got so hot a couple of weeks ago). And that pot is it: I don't have any more bare dirt in the garden and I don't have another suitable large pot.

Herbs waiting on the edge of the porch; they've doubled — at least — in size since I bought them about three weeks ago.

I'm with Carol, who said in a comment on the previous post that she has a hard time getting rid of a plant that's in bloom. This situation is certainly different than the problem with the red yucca because the pansies and violas are doomed, whether their death is the sudden one of me ripping them out of the pot or a slow one caused by inevitable increases in heat and humidity. Even so . . .

I was just out looking at the pot of pansies and I know in the next day or so I'll get up the nerve and it will be good-bye pansies, hello mini herb garden. I'll keep you posted.


Carol said...

Susan... I have the same dilemma, only I just planted my pansies and violas in March. I partially solve the problem by planting them in pots that I reserve just for them, so I can go ahead and pot up summer annuals in other pots and leave them be. But when to rip them out? They could have a little bloom on them all summer!

And I have a window box that they definitely need to come out of soon...

Sorry I wasn't much help, I think your pansies still look pretty good!

sonia said...

So do I, Susan. Plus the herbs look happy where they are for now. I'd vote for leaving the pansies in the pot until they completely give up. You won't have much longer, probably just a matter of days. In the meantime, water and enjoy.

Annie in Austin said...

The hanging baskets on our veranda were filled with pansies last fall and they also still look pretty good, so I sure understand your dilemma, Susan!

What I've done the last couple of years is to make the transition gradually. I tidy the pansies, clipping off some long overgrown strands, and tuck small impatiens plants in the spaces. Then the weather decides how quickly the pansies decline and when the impatiens begin to burgeon.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Dawn said...

Hi Susan!

If it were me I'd probably just go out and buy another pot for the new plants and wait until the pansies were really and truly dead. But then, I'm a real push-over for flowering plants. All my ruthlessness evaporates when faced with a sweet bloom. See my previously-doomed crepe myrtle as exhibit A. LOL!

Good luck with your decision!


M Sinclair Stevens (Austin) said...

My violas are on their last legs, too, but I don't have anything to replace them so I'm not ripping them out yet. Besides, I've done nothing this last month but clear out the spring flowers, starting with the spiderwort, then the false dayfowers, bluebonnets, and larkspur. Actually, I'm only half way through the false dayflowers.

It's been such a cool rainy spring, everything's lasting longer than usual.

Susan said...

Carol — It's hard for me to imagine the kind of climate where pansies could bloom all summer long. Here they're really winter and early spring flowers.

Sonia — I think I'm going to have to just keep watering everything until I get some clearer sign.

Annie — I like the idea of pulling some of the pansies out and sticking the herbs in among the violas, which seem to be holding up better than the pansies anyway.

Dawn — Certainly my first impulse is to go buy another pot — or even to say, Well, I'd better just dig up some other part of the yard but I'm trying to hold on to my wallet and my common sense. So I think it's a waiting game for now.

And MSS — I am trying to soak up every moment of this lovely coolness. All too soon . . . well, why go there?

Yolanda Elizabet said...

How nice that you enjoy a bit of a cool spell at the moment.

I understand what you're going thru, it's the same with me every year. My Violets are still going strong too, although they are getting a bit leggy. A gardener's life is no bed of roses. ;-)