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Thought I mastered pansies, but didn't

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Jan 28, 2004.

  1. OP
    OP
    DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,119

    Getting off topic a little, but there is a HUGE difference between the Home Depot and the Home Depot Landscape Supply store. I try to buy everything from HDLS. They're very friendly, they have as good a selection, or better, than Lesco. The Lesco guys act like jerks and never help load fert bags! They have better prices than Lesco too. And they warranty all plants for 12 months no questions asked. They also have a pretty good discount for landscapers on plant materials, low voltage lighting, irrigation, construction materials, basically everything in the store.

    http://atlanta.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2003/02/03/daily44.html

    http://www.kvil.com/events/110803-Home Depot Landscape - Amy Catherine/pages/Home Depot 1_jpg.htm

    Sorry to get off topic, but there is a difference between HD & HDLS.

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  2. Doster's L & L

    Doster's L & L LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 619

    There is a Home Depot Landscape Supply store that is separate from the regular Home Depot? I know they have the landscpae supplies on one side of the store, but there's a landscaping Home Depot as well? We don't have one of those around here.
     
  3. DUSTYCEDAR

    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 5,129

    my lesco guys will drop off stuff at my place anytime and even stack it if i want
     
  4. OP
    OP
    DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,119

    ++++my lesco guys will drop off stuff at my place anytime and even stack it if i want+++++

    Wow! I dread doing business with Lesco. I know I'm not the biggest customer they have, but they just act like I'm bothering them everytime I go in there. It's not just me, either. I've seen other landscapers in there who are treated the same way. But the big thing that really pizzed me off was when I walking through the Home Depot Landscape Supply store. Now realize, the goal of the HDLS is to sell 50% of their goods to consumers and 50% to landscapers. Anyway, I noticed a 50 lb bag of Lesco 0-0-7 w/pre-m for $12.xx, and that's the consumer list price. There is a small discount for landscape professionals. I figured my price was the same or similar at Lesco. No biggie. But the next time I bought from Lesco, my price was over $14.xx for the same product. And as usual, they didn't raise a finger to help me load it. After I bought it, I went to the HDLS store a few days later. Sure enough, over $2.00 per bag cheaper with them. After doing a little research, it turns out they're a little cheaper on just about everything, from MSMA to Manage.

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  5. OP
    OP
    DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,119

    Sodking,

    That is an outstanding link to the University of Georgia info. Very good stuff there.

    Basically, I've seen my failures all have one thing in common: clay soils. My successes with pansies have one thing in common: light, airy soft soils.

    The one thing the U of G link doesn't do that I wish it did, is prioritize the various factors that lead to problems. They talk about the pH levels, too much water leading to root problems, pests, correct planting times, soil quality, soil temperature, fertility, fungus, the list goes on and on. Maybe that's why call whimpy people "Pansies".

    I know the average landscaper isn't doing pH testing before planting pansies. Most of the pansies around here look pretty good, a few look horrible, a few look outstanding. The nurseries sell pansies for six months straight, so I'm guessing the planting time isn't as important as other factors.

    I would think soil quality is the number one factor with pansies. Probably the second most critical factor to watch out for, from what I've seen in my limited experience, is aphids.

    How would others prioritize these factors? The U of G link does make it sound like pH can make or break them. How can you test pH? Do you have to take a soil sample and send it into a lab or is there some way to test pH on the spot?

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  6. SodKing

    SodKing LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,641

    I check ph on every lawn we treat several times per year. I also check the ph of any flower bed we plant in. You can get fairly accurate test results in under 3 minutes with a Kelway ph meter, it also check water saturation. It is available from Gemplers. Here is the link to the meter:

    Kelway Ph meter
     
  7. Peach

    Peach LawnSite Member
    Messages: 86

    Only a guess.... others have said the first two

    supplier.... get thee to a nursery

    organic material ... add compost or whatever you read Pansies need

    But am I the only one who thinks the problem really might be root competition from the tree?? My first reaction ... may be wrong.
     
  8. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,898

    I doubt competition from the tree roots is causing them to look bad. That *could* be a factor, just not a huge one...

    Hard to tell from the pic, but it's possible that the tree may not be competing with *anything* in a few years with those blocks around it....


    Dan
     
  9. OP
    OP
    DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,119

    Sodking,

    From reading the product discription, it sounds pretty simple. I guess you just drive the Kelway probe into the soil and three minutes later it tells you what the soil pH is?

    Is that all there is to it? $99 bucks ain't bad. I think I'll be ordering that right away.

    Several other questions:

    1.) The U of G document says:

    Fertilization requirements of pansies differ from other types of seasonal color. Avoid using fertilizers containing high amounts of slow-release ammoniacal nitrogen. These are fine for summer annuals but not for fall pansies. High rates of ammoniacal nitrogen will cause pansy stems to stretch and become succulent during the warm fall weather. This weakens the plants and makes them more susceptible to winter injury. Ammoniacal nitrogen also is slow to be absorbed by the plants during the winter months when soil temperatures drop below 45 degrees F. Pansies can starve during the winter months even though the soil contains high amounts of ammoniacal nitrogen.

    I would think a routine fertilization program would be beneficial to the pansies. Do you stop by and apply a liquid fertilizer to the pansies every month or so? How often? Do you charge extra for this or is it inlcuded in the planting price?

    2.) Do you trust that the 4" pansies you get from the nurseries have been treated with a systemmic insecticide or do you apply merit or another pesticide at planting? I'm assuming that merit, though I don't have the label handy, will prevent all the pests they mentioned: peachgreen aphid, foxglove aphid, pansyworms, cutworms, yellow woollybear, and slugs.

    3.) Again, from the U of G link:

    Deadheading (removing spent blossoms) from frost damaged flowers and cleaning up beds by removing debris and leaves should be a top priority with pansies. This not only prevents insect and disease problems but also improves the visibility of the color display. Bi-monthly deadheading is an essential requirement of a professional color display. Also, trim lanky branches periodically to encourage branching, compact growth and improved flowering.

    Do you stop by the plantings and perform "deadheading"? Do you charge extra for this, or is it included in the planting price?

    Thanks for sharing,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  10. Norm Al

    Norm Al LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,224

    the problem you are having is NOT with the soils!

    pansies and ALL other plants will grow in a plastic (soil) pot sitting in the middle of a concrete slab! IF they receive proper water and fert.

    the problem you are having is that clay soils when they get dry are very hard to get water into,,,,2 times per week you are getting dry pansies!

    the question is what will it take to balance out your 2 waterings when spread over a week?

    you planted in an elevated bed area which in itself is a recipe for drying out,,(your nice flower pictures are on level bed areas),,it looks like the flowers arent planted deep enough, half out of the ground?(maybe thats because they were dying?) when you say the shade helps,,,,that goes into the idea of spreading your water out more evenly over the week.

    soil, terrasorb, proper planting something you will have to decide to add or manage better if you want better flowers!
     

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