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Local Pansies

By: Stuart Delk | Floral Director
On: March 18, 2015

Who can resist spring pansies? Their bright colors are a sharp contrast to the dreary dullness of winter. Pansies have been grown for 200 years and have enjoyed an immense popularity for decades. The appeal of their bright colors is timeless.

I was fortunate to learn how to grow pansies in a setting that was a throwback to the 1930s. We sowed seeds in September, transplanted the small seedlings to growing trays a month later, transplanted the small plants to outdoor cold frames a month later, and grew them over the entire winter (manually adjusting the glass panels covering the frames every day). In April, we dug and wrapped the pansy plants in newspaper. We used no chemicals and no fossil fuels. Our methods were oddly old-fashioned but interestingly ahead of the growing interest in low-impact, environmentally friendly horticulture. Our robust pansies were spectacular with stunning foliage and bright blossoms. We grew the best.

Commercial pansy growing is, like many things, far from what most people imagine. Pansies are “fast-tracked” in heated greenhouses. Every day that plants are in the greenhouse is a day of energy consumption and expense. Pansies are given heavy doses of fertilizer to accelerate growth. The fertilizer-induced rapid growth causes problems for the grower; the pansies outgrow the small container ”packs” in which the pansies are planted. This “growth problem” is corrected by the application of chemical growth regulators. This inhibited growth is good for the grower but often results in an unnatural stunted plant. The pansy plant often never fully develops.

When I stopped growing pansies, I searched for a grower who would grow without using growth regulators. Many growers said it just couldn’t be done. I finally found Allyson’s Gardens in Lebanon willing to try. Allyson has now been doing it for years by successfully combining the old and new. She grows in greenhouses with computer-adjusted ventilation and heating but she uses no growth regulators on the pansies she grows for DLM.

DLM pansies are lush with deep foliage and vibrant colors. The plants don’t have a stunted growth habit that look oddly out of proportion. They are simply unlike any pansies you’re likely to find elsewhere.