Thought I mastered pansies, but didn't

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

  1. Cutters Lawn Care

    Cutters Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    Just wondering how the pansies are looking after you put the iron to them DFW.
     
  2. NCSULandscaper

    NCSULandscaper Banned
    Messages: 1,557

    Dont know if its just here or everywhere, but i have noticed for the past 2 or 3 years, i have not seen an impressive pansie display. Dont know if its colder winters, a new disease that has attacked them, or what. But i havent been able to grow decent pansies in a while.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    DFW Area Landscaper

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

    ++++Just wondering how the pansies are looking after you put the iron to them DFW.++++

    They're looking a little darker green, I think. I think the yellow color is starting to go away. I just hit them with the Ironite 4 days ago. But I have noticed that all the pansies around town are looking pretty good right now. I think it's got more to do with the warmer weather than anything.

    Who really knows????

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,897

    I have close to 100% success these days. And like you, I struggled with them - and most annuals - for years.

    What makes all the difference in the world for me is soil. I used to plant them in the existing soil or even work in some planting compost - like we do with most other plants. Then I covered it up with a top dressing of barkmulch. That never worked, no matter what I did afterwards.

    Nowadays, if I am planting pansies - or most any anuals for that matter - I first remove all of the soil from the area where the planting is to be done to about a 6" depth. Then I fill that up with some sort of soil that is very high in vermiculite, perlite, pummice, etc. I don't know why they like this kind of soil but they do. They just thrive in it. Even potting soil seems to work great. But whatever it is, it needs to have lots of the little white pieces (vermiculite, etc.) in it.

    Next, I don't cover it with any barkmulch. It seems to leech nitrogen and water from the area. So I don't use any of that at all. The flowers are in just soil only - with no topdressing.

    Finally, I fertilize heavily with a "bloom booster" type of fertilizer - something that's high in Phosphorus, which promotes flower growth. Something like a 10-30-10 works GREAT!

    Then just make sure the area gets ample water.

    When I do it this way we always have near perfect success.

    Keep in mind, too, that pansies don't like a lot of direct sun and/or hot temperatures. So being in Texas, I'd expect marginal results anyway. Here in Oregon, they do great until about May or June, when temperatures reach 70+ every day. Then no matter what you do - they begin to die back.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    DFW Area Landscaper

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

    ++++I first remove all of the soil from the area where the planting is to be done to about a 6" depth. Then I fill that up with some sort of soil that is very high in vermiculite, perlite, pummice, etc.++++

    Jim, Just a few questions:

    1.) What do you do with the excavated soil? I saw a picture of your tailgate and if that's you're driveway the truck is sitting in, you're just like me. I live in the city and I have no where to dispose of things like this, other than driving out to the city dump. My only other option is to put small amounts of excavated soil into 30 gallon trash bags and leave them at the curb.

    2.) The natural soils in Texas are hard clay. If that's the way it is in Oregon, I'd guess you're creating the perfect bowl for water to stand in. Most all annuals have little tolerance for wet feet. Does the white stuff (vermiculite, perlite, etc.) absorb enough water such that there isn't standing water in the bottom of the hole? How do you prevent root rot?

    3.) What kind of soil are you bringing in? The cost difference between a cubic foot of the landscaper's mix and a cubic foot of potting soil is tremendous.

    4.) How do you charge for this? I know most of your customers are on a flat rate monthly billing arrangement. What's a fair retail price, per cubic foot, to do this on an a' la carte billing?

    5.) What is the maintenance system you use after they're planted? Do you apply liquid type fertilizers? Or does the "bloom booster" fertilizer you apply at planting last all season? How often do you deadhead? What's a fair price to charge for maintaining a flat (18 around here) of 4" annuals?

    Thanks,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,897

    Ok, well, obviously we live in drastically different climates. So YMMV. But...

    1) Yes, I live in the city, but I live right on the edge of the country. Just a few miles away, land is cheaper and there are yard debris drop offs everywhere. We pay a flat fee each month to dump off as much debris, soil, etc. as we want.

    2) Yes, here too, the natural soil is often clay. However, in planting beds, usually they've been amended over the years. So I am usually starting off with decent stuff. Does water collect at the bottom? I don't know. It's Oregon. We plant these in the fall and it rains here almost every day until spring. So I suppose water does collect. Maybe the perlite/vermiculite/pumice stuff sucks up the moisture and saves it from going to the bottom. I don't know. All I know is when I do pansies this way - they thrive.

    3) I bring it in in bags usually. It's typically a smaller area and only 4 or 5 flats that I am installing. That's about 6 or 8 bags of the stuff. I just poke around at nurseries and find the stuff that has the most white stuff in it. Then I buy that. Even the stuff at home depot works great. Just as long as it has that white perlite.... stuff. I just add the $4 per bag or so to the cost.

    4) Mostly, I just figure out how much time it's going to take and figure my costs. A small job may be like this; 5 flats of pansies; $45.00. 8 bags of soil; $32.00. 4 man hours (to pick up the bags, plants, and install and dump old soil) at $35 per man hour; $140.00. Then I'd throw in a little extra just in case. So for a small job like that I'd probably charge $275.00

    5) We don't do much in regards to maintenance except fertilize them if needed. Around here, pansies typically look half way beat up all winter anyway. But they're the only real good color flowers that survive our winters. I will fertilize them once when they're installed and again late winter and probably again early spring. But it's slow release fert. so you can tell when it's gone.

    I went outsite and took some pictures of the ones here at my house that we planted in October. Keep in mind, we just had the biggest winter storm here in 10 years. These were all covered with 6" of snow for over a week, about 6 weeks ago. When that was over, there wasn't hardly a flower petal left. So this is thriving, considering it's still winter here and considering the storm......

    100_0674.jpg
     
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,897

    These pansies will be twice this size in about 4-8 weeks.....

    .

    100_0673.jpg
     
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,897

  9. OP
    OP
    DFW Area Landscaper

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

    Well, I think it's obvious the liquid feedings have made a difference. I've been deadheading them about twice a week and I have been liquid feeding them once a week. These pansies have only been liquid fed 4 times and look at what a difference it's made!

    pansies 1.032.jpg
     
  10. NCSULandscaper

    NCSULandscaper Banned
    Messages: 1,557

    I can see where Jim's method of using soiless mix would work well in his region, lots of rain there. But anywhere else that mix dries out too fast, and we all know most customers wont water, unless they have irrigation. That stuff would dry out in half a day around here. Ive simply just about given up on doing pansies, too much work and money involved personally that customers just wont pay it. Only time they look good is when you yank them up.
     

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