521 Viola x WittrockianaCommon Names: pansy, ladies-delight Family: Violaceae (violet Family)
The pansy is a perennial that is grown as an annual by most gardeners . It thrives in cooler weather and has become a popular winter annual in Florida and similar warm climates. In colder areas the pansy is enjoyed in the spring. Pansies are small plants growing from 4-10 in (10-25 cm) tall depending on the variety. They form small mounds of deep green foliage that are resistant to light frosts. Many different cultivars provide gardeners with flowers that are from 1-4 in (2.5-10.2 cm) in diameter and come in a rainbow of colors. Older favorites have multi-toned flowers in bright, clear yellow, purple, blue and white. Newer varieties add to the palette with light pastel blue, dusty rose, white and even black. While some of the newer colors are very engaging, I prefer the older varieties. Most of these smile back at you with a "face" formed by a whimsical patterning of color blotches, making the pansy the happiest plant in the garden. With expressions ranging from mischievous to adorable to jolly, pansies are the pixies of the plant world.
Our garden pansies are the result of extensive hybridizing and selecting involving the species Viola tricolor, V. lutea, V. altaica and others. Most, if not all, of the parent species are native to Europe and Asia Minor.
CulturePansies are not fussy about soil. Do, however, add organic matter if your soil is very light and sandy to help retain moisture, and prevent plants from wilting in bright sun. Fertilize when setting out to insure a good display of flowers. Light: Bright sun to partial shade. Will grow in deep shade but expect fewer flowers. Moisture: Likes moisture; water when dry. Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 - 10. In warmest zones the pansy is a favorite winter flower. In colder zones the pansy is enjoyed as an annual in spring. Pansies are clobbered by hot summertime temperatures. Propagation: By seeds and cuttings. Seedlings are widely available in cell-packs from supermarkets, discount stores, home centers and nurseries.
Use pansies in front of beds and in borders to add a splash of color during the cooler months. Plant them in window boxes so you can enjoy their bright faces smiling back at you inside. Cheer up cool gray days with pots of pansies situated at entrances and on patios and decks.
Durable and pest free, these happy little flowers are easy to grow and provide a burst of color during seasons when not many other plants are performing. Best of all, they are easy to find, inexpensive and easy to grow!
Jack Scheper 10/30/98; updated 12/6/99, 2/9/04, 2/6/11