Late August is a good time to sow pansy seeds for flowers next spring. A couple of packets should produce enough plants for a glorious display.
Pansies are more hardy than people realize: They survive winter outdoors here with little or no protection. But a light mulch of straw, the same kind you would use on strawberries, prevents plants from being heaved out of the soil by alternate freezing and thawing.
It's best to sow the seeds in a specially prepared seed bed outdoors. When the plants are a couple of inches high, transplant to where you want them to bloom next spring.
To help the soil retain moisture, mix in peat or compost. If the seeds dry out, they won't germinate, and if the soil becomes waterlogged, the seed may rot.
Plant the seeds about one-eighth inch deep, preferable where the seedlings will get sun in the morning and light shade during the afternoon. Barely cover the seeds with soil.
There may be some flowers this fall. Remove the faded flowers immediately. After Christmas, if you have a Christmas tree, cut off the small branches and put them over the pansies.
For color indoors during winter months, try growing a plant in a glass of water. Geraniums, coleus and wax begonias are attractive and cooperative.
Take cuttings now from strong, healthy plants. The part of the plant that has been exposed to the most sunlight gives the best cuttings. Use a sharp knife to get four-to-five-inch cuttings.
Give geraniums growing in water a cool place with good light -- preferably sunlight. A windowsill facing south is fine, and a night temperature of 55 to 65 is satisfactory. The plants will be in flower most of the time.