At the middle of September transplant into a coldframe four or five inches apart, and after one good watering seldom anything more is needed till the first of December, or even later if winter keeps off. Then cover with glazed sashes, and on mild days in winter, which we do occasionally get, give ventilation. Be sure in March to give air on sunny days or your pansies will draw up and be useless. In fact, on mild, sunny days it is better to remove the sashes, and as soon as frost is out of the ground re-move them entirely.
The above method is only commended for those who can get a good price for choice early plants, especially for vases, and the care and labor bestowed on them warrants your asking double and treble the price of the field-grown plants. Yet the latter will generally fill the bill. After you have raised them and have fine beds in full bloom in the month of October, it is a shame to let them perish for want of winter protection. Straw is best of all, but if there is a deficiency of that the evergreen boughs are good, and branches of the common hemlock spruce are best of all.
The frosts of winter have usually heaved the plants out some, so the first job in spring is to go over the beds and press them back. These plants will be large and give fine, perfect flowers, and you will get at least 50 cents a dozen for them and should get more. When Mr. Pumpkin brings in his wagon-loads and sells at 25 cents a dozen, and every grocer handles them, you are out of it.
If you have forgotten to sow in the fall you can make a sowing in the greenhouse in flats in January or February, and by pricking out in other flats and giving them the coolest, lightest bench you have, and putting the flats into a cold-frame early in April, you will have plants to sell that for continuous summer blooming, if cared for, will be more satisfactory than either your own cold-frame or the farmer's field-grown plants.
I failed to mention that those sown out of doors in July will be ready to transplant into the winter beds in about six weeks, or as soon as they are large enough to handle. You are bound to have sown thickly, so transplant before the plants become spindling. The pansy, like all the viola family, is little affected by a disturbance of the roots and immediately starts growing. About four inches apart is a good distance between plants. Give them a thorough watering after transplanting, and if the weather is dry a good soaking once a week; before snow flies you will have beds of stout, healthy plants, many blooming, and here is where their meek faces should appeal to you that they deserve an overcoat of some sort through the long winter.
Pansy flowers are favorites with many in the winter months. In some floral designs the blues and purples or white and yellow look very rich, and when grown for cut flowers you should sow in distinct varieties. For this purpose sow early in August and then select the strongest, healthiest seedlings and plant on the bench in "September, giving them all the sun and air you can. They are often disappointing in not flowering. They must have a light house and need every ray of sun you can get between snow storms. Anxious as they are to flower when March comes, they don't want to send up their buds in the dead of winter.
About 45 degrees at night will do, and 60 degrees in daytime if the weather is bright, if cloudy, less, but unless you can give them a light house don 't try it. The greenfly troubles them in winter, so smoke. Out of doors nothing troubles except the hot weather.
In Europe where they give the pansy great attention and select the finest flowers and name them Captain Dreyfus, Paul Kruger, Aguinaldo or Wm. J. Bryan, etc., they perpetuate these fine varieties by cuttings, which root easily from side shoots in a shaded cold-frame in September. Here I have never heard of that being done. We depend entirely on seedlings and they are certainly, as we often say in the vernacular, "good enough."
For large quantities the seed can be sown broadcast on a finely raked surface and the seed just covered and pressed slightly firm. With expensive seed in small quantities I prefer to sow in shallow drills two inches apart, scatter the seed thinly in the drills and then just cover. You can quickly make the drill by having a rod an inch square and pressing one angle of it into the ground.
The pansy is a cold-blooded little plant of the northern temperate zone, and it likes water. Above all, to produce fine flowers and a good plant it takes an abundance of manure. A good, friable loam is the thing, with the addition of a third of decayed cow manure, or if that is not to be had, plenty of old hotbed manure will do. If you try to grow them all summer don't be sprinkling every night, but give them a soaking twice a week and be sure to pick off all withered flowers. It is not the flower that exhausts the plant, it is the function of bearing seed.
There have been innumerable strains of pansies, and no two people fancy the same flower. A first-class mixture suits the florist best, but be sure you get plenty of yellow and purple; they are always fancied, and a large flower will always be preferred. One of the best strains I ever grew came from Mr. James Fleming more than thirty-five years ago, when the firm was Peter Henderson and James Fleming. On inquiry I found that Mr. Fleming had been hunting over the markets of New York, selecting a fine flower here and there wherever he saw one, and had in that way obtained a fine strain; that you can do yourself. The best of everything is either nature's or man's selection.
It is a mistake to think that pansies must be discarded from flower gardens about the middle of June. During the summer of the Pan-American Exposition we had a dozen small pansy beds that were beautiful every day from May to October, but this was the result of faithful watering and the removal of all faded flowers.
The Giant Trimardeau is a large, finely marked pansy, but not of great substance. Butterfly pansies are beautifully marked. Other well-known strains are the Odier, very rich in color; Bugnot's Parisian strain, Belgian, German and English strains. Several of our own florists have selected the finest flowers from these and have now a strain that I prefer to any of them. Any grower can work up a strain of his own equal to the best.