The month of March is a tumultuous time on Long Island. The last few years March has been a reminder of winter and its tenacity. Snow storms that lasted into April strained our patience.

Through all this turmoil, Pansies and Viola have remained a constant reminder that spring is eternal and comes each year, without fail. These colorful, hardy flowers bring so much pleasure to gardeners and homeowners. It’s always a pleasure when we receive the first crop and display them proudly. Many of us use them inside the house in small planters or bowls.

The same time the first crop of pansies are being displayed we start to see the “bulbs” emerging from the snowy groundcover. Crocus, Snowdrops and even Marsh marigolds poke their heads into our gardens - and the season begins. It wont’ be long till Daffodils, Hyacinths, and Tulips grace our homes.  If you find pleasure in these early bulb flowers, remember to plant more of them in October and November.

Pansies and Viola are the early Spring Annuals. There are other Spring annuals that also tolerate cold temperatures however they’re not as durable. Ranunculous, Senetti, and Nemesia are also considered spring annuals and they’re as lovely as any flower you’ll see all year. Ranunculous has gained in popularity and I’m noticing them in almost every design magazine. It also happens to be one of my favorites. Senetti has a brilliant blue flower and also comes in pink. Senetti commands your attention. If you plant Pansies early, remember to leave some room for the other spring annuals. They warrant the patience. Wait till the temperatures aren’t as cold before planting these other spring annuals.

Most avid gardeners rely on these early performers to bring color into their landscapes and their lives. They provide happiness. What you want to remember is, spring annuals won’t survive the heat of summer. Use them in smaller amounts than you do the summer annuals. Plan on having them through the month of May and I’m confident you’ll enjoy their attributes.

For those of you that enjoy container gardening the following schedule may help you plan the year. Feel free to mix and match any way you feel comfortable. Get creative and always rely on Decker’s Nursery to assist with your plant selections if there’s any questions.

  • March/April - Plant pansies and viola as soon as they’re available. The early color is always a pleasure. Viola has a smaller flower and they both come in bold, brilliant colors.

    **Leave room in containers to add Ranunculous, and Senetti in early April. These annuals can’t take a hard freeze or snow like the Pansies can.

    **Consider using some trailing English Ivy in your planters to add depth and a trailing effect.
  • Mid to Late-May - after the threat of a frost are gone you can switch over to summer annuals.

    These are the most popular flowers. You can combine all types of tropical plants and the only limitations are your imagination.. The summer annuals are very popular throughout the summer months and they thrive in high temperatures. These plants will last into late summer and provide months of pleasure

    ** Care and maintenance is very important with these arrangements. Remember to fertilize and water often to assure plant performance
  • September/October - As summer fades away. There’s an entirely other selection of Fall Annuals to work with. Many of you thing about Chrysanthemums, ornamental Cabbage and Kale. Montauk Daisy become very popular and they’re available in sizes that work in containers.

    If you’re looking for a pop of added color, the ornamental peppers have become very popular.

    Fall annuals don’t provide the longevity of the summer annuals however they’re a welcome site as we transition out of summer.
  • November/December Holiday & Winter decor is a festive way to continue using your container gardens. This can be a lot of fun and many gardeners take cuttings from evergreens on their property. Using different textures and color foliage will create an arrangement that’s cheery and bright. Red & White colored birch branches will provide some height and other contrasting color. Don’t hesitate to use an ornament or two for added interest.

    Winter arrangements will withstand the cold weather however they become “tired” around the end of January. If you get a warm day it’s a good time to pull the tired branches out.

Following this schedule will provide year round interest in your container gardens. By the time March rolls around, you’ll be ready to start all over with the Pansies that provide so much pleasure and shake off the duldrums of winter.