Over the last several years we have seen a steady decline in spring pansy sales. As our fall pansy sales have increased, the spring numbers have declined. Fortunately, the increase in the fall has been more than the decrease in the spring.
Last spring, I grew 2000 flats of J6 pansies which was down from 9000 flats 5 years ago.
I sold 400 flats of the 2000.
Pansies are not a spring crop in the south anymore. Most of the pansies being planted south of Zone 6b are being planted in the fall. If you are a garden center in Zone 6b or south and you are counting on early pansy sales to help your cash flow, you better rethink that strategy.
Now that I have said that, spring 2010 will be an exception to the new paradigm. With all the freezing weather we have had in the south this winter. I predict that there will be a slight increase in demand for pansies this spring. I say slight because for most people disposable income is still tight. A few die hard gardeners will want to replace their pansies early as well as some landscapers with contracts, but most people will just wait until they normally do to buy their spring plants.
Better options for early spring sales are alyssum, calibrachoas, dianthus, petunias, lobelia, and snapdragons.