Cool Weather Annuals

Pansies and Beyond!

By The Kennedy’s Team

In the beginning stages of Spring, folks start to really feel the need for some floral color in their yards.  They look at the tired holiday greens in their containers and think- Ok, you’re outta here, and I’m heading to Kennedy’s to find some fresh, pretty plants to perk things up!

Of course, what you put in must be fairly cold tolerant, and you think, “Ahhh, Pansies!”- and you are right. Pansies, and Violas, are wonderfully cold tolerant and come in a vast array of colors, shades of yellow, blue, purple, orange, gold, burgundy, white, pink shades, and even some with sweet faced markings.  Here’s an interesting bit of information- All Pansies are Violas but not all Violas are Pansies. If the flower has four petals pointing upward and only one pointing downward – then it’s a Pansy. If the flower has two petals pointing upward and three petals pointing downward – it’s a Viola.

Cool Weather Annuals

What many don’t realize is that there are so many other cool weather annuals, that marry well with the violas and some spring bulbs. In the early spring we typically have a nice selection of Tulips, Hyacinths and Daffodils., and there are also some gorgeous perennials on the benches, which can be used successfully in containers, either on their own, or mixed with cool weather annuals.  Ones with foliage interest are particularly good for this purpose. The bulbs and perennials can later be planted in the ground and will come back next year.

Cool Weather Annuals

Cool Weather Annuals

You may also drop off your containers and we can plant them up for you- just give us an idea of the colors you like and any other specifics. You can then do a curbside pickup.

Here is list of beautiful and varied types of annuals that do great in the cooler weather- we have them all in multiple colors. Each of them can usually be found at Kennedy’s Country Gardens!

Argyranthemum – Daisies
Lobularia or Allysum
Osteospermum – Cape or African Daisies
Linaria or Toadflax
Dusty Miller
Erysimum or Wall Flower

Technical Note from Chris Kennedy, MCH:

Cool Season Annuals thrive from Mid-April to Mid-June …………but most of us are starving for color by March!!!

So can you put cool season annuals outside in March??  The answer is yes …sort of.  They can go out on warm days and nights, but temps at night can and likely will dip into the mid to low 30’s in March and occasionally early April.  So pansies and other cool season annuals should be brought in on cold nights.  A 35 degree night might not kill the plant, it may depend on the variety since each one has it’s own cold tolerance, but likely the flowers and foliage will be stunted and turn purple.  Extended cold rains will have the same effect or worse.  So the key is to check the weather and act accordingly.

Another tip is plant cool season annuals in lightweight planters or plastic pots that can be inserted inside heavier decorative pots so it is easy to lift them and pull them inside the house or garage at night. Wait to plant pansies in the garden or heavy pots until mid-April.  Some people do cover pansies and cool season annuals with a light sheet or frost cloth if we get the occasional cold night in April. For whatever reason Daffodils & Hellebores seem to be tolerant to the cold and the rain.  Those can be planted in March with very little risk and both can be planted in the garden after since they ae both perennial.

Lastly, pansies and most cold season annuals can be planted at least 4-6 weeks before warm season annuals.  However, cold season annuals do not thrive in the summer months and after a stretch of 80 & 90 degree days they will flower less.  Most people replace them with warm season annuals by mid-June.

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