To some of us, the pansy/viola is a happy, smiling face reminding us of a gardener friend from long ago. The first sign of that special flower brings a smile to our face and warmth to our heart. After all, this flower is known as the "pixie" of the plant world. How perfect is that to have in your winter/spring gardens!
Botanically speaking, members of the genus Viola, which includes the pansy, viola and violets, are perennials. We just happen to treat them as annuals. The varieties that we grow are happiest in cool weather. Planting them now ensures wonderful color in your spring gardens.
There are many different cultivars of pansies and violas offering a wide range of colors and flower sizes: colors from white, yellow, apricot, violet, blue-purples, dusty rose and combinations of all of these colors! The flower sizes range from 1-4 inches.
Pansies are best in sun to light shade. If you plant them in deep shade, they will grow, but not reward you with as many flowers. Plant them toward the front of your flower beds, along with your shrubs and other flowering bedding plants. You may not want to put them too close to the edge if your planter is next to your grass--scary weed whackers may chop off their heads! These plants love to trail and would also be beautiful in raised beds, planters and window boxes.
Here are a few planting and care tips:
- Amend the soil before planting to provide good drainage around the roots. Use a good potting soil--not garden soil--if you have them in planters.
- Space them about 6" apart.
- Water deeply, but be careful to not overwater. Don't leave them in soggy soil.
- Mulching around the pansies with 2 inches of organic material will help conserve moisture, and reduce weed growth.
- Pansies are mostly free of diseases and pests, but if you've had a problem in an area of your garden with pansies, switch and grow them in another area for a year or so.
- And here is your number one rule: start your morning with a stroll into your garden to start your day with smiling faces. Oh sure, you can take your cup of coffee or tea along with you, too.