Now that winter is over (right?!), it's time to pay extra attention to your pansies & violas so they can put on the best spring show of flowers. Here's what you need to do for the most blooms on your pansies.
First, don't despair if they look a little ragged. Very cold weather will cause pansies to "scrunch up" and look a bit sad. As long as the plants are some shade of green, they will recover very quickly once temperatures rise. If you see tan or brown stems, pinch them off, as they were probably damaged by the cold. If your pansies were planted fairly early last fall and developed good roots, they can recover from quite a lot of cold damage.
If you have a few plants missing that just didn't make it through the winter, you can replace them with new plants. In a few weeks you'll hardly be able to tell the difference.
Next, you'll want to fertilize them. Fertilizer id the key to good flower production. We use PlantTone fertilizer from Espoma on our pansy and viola bed installations. It's a good, organic fertilizer that feeds the pansies "just right". You can also use Osmocote, Scotts Flower & Vegetable, or any balanced slow release or organic fertilizer. One application should be enough until you switch to summer flowers. If you prefer liquid fertilizer, you will have to reapply several times through the spring.
For pansies, be sure to deadhead (remove spent blooms) regularly to encourage lots of flower production and to minimize disease spread during periods of wet weather. Violas, with their smaller and somewhat tougher flowers, don't need this extra maintenance, making them excellent choices for those who prefer to minimize their time working in the garden.
Finally, pansies are deer candy! If there are deer in your neighborhood, it's probably a good idea to apply a deer repellent to your pansies regularly. Regular application protects new growth and flowers, and should be reapplied especially after a heavy rain.