Growing Pansies And Viola Flowers

Information on different colors and sizes of pansies available and similarity to violas noted. Instructions on how to grow and care for both plant types.

Pansies are one of the most widely known and best loved of all cultivated flowers. The choice of colors and markings on pansies is extraordinary. They can be found in almost any color, in shades from pale and soft to bright and vivid. For gardeners who prefer blue flowers, the pansy is without peer in the range of blue colors - from pale sky blue to deep royal blue.

New varieties are constantly being developed. In the Panola Panache series, there is now a dark grape-juice purple pansy available.

For the gardener who wants to mix colors yet keep the size and style of the pansy plant more uniform, there are different series available that each possess distinctive characteristics such as flower and plant size, shadings of color, blotches or other markings. For example, the gardener may choose a variety of different colors of the series Imperial which will be all uniform in size and shading. Or perhaps the gardener will prefer the another series . Majestic Giants, for example, are a series which have very large blooms (around 4 inches). The Crown series possesses clear, bright colors without markings and are dependable early bloomers.

The pansy is a hybrid originally developed in Europe. Although it is technically a perennial, it only grows well from seed the first year and after than it deteriorates quickly. They are usually grown as annuals or biennials.

Pansies and violas are from the same family and are grown the same way. Pansies generally grow about 8 inches tall with delicate 2 to 3 inch flowers of five overlapping petals in every color and marking imaginable. The similar viola grows 6 to 8 inches tall with smaller 1 1/2 inch blooms and the color selection is not quite as broad as with the pansy. Violas have smaller flowers but they generally bloom longer than pansies.

In areas where the minimum winter temperature is 20 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, such as the southern United States, pansies and violas can be grown as a winter plant. Planted in the fall, they can survive the freezes and snowfalls of the southern winter quite well. In the more northern climates they can be grown in the spring. What they do not tolerate well is hot weather.

Because they are low growing plants, they make excellent borders and edging which are filled with brilliant color. They also are a great choice for pots and window boxes. Pansies make a delightful small bouquet of cut flowers.

Pansies and violas prefer a loose, moisture retentive soil dug deeply and enriched with compost. They thrive in full sun but can take some partial shade. Deep shade is not recommended.

A steady supply of water is required so they need to be watered regularly when it does not rain. Add a standard, all- purpose liquid fertilizer to the water about once a month.

Frequent pinching of spent blooms is encouraged as it produces a profusion of new buds and blooms. Mulching with straw is sometimes recommended, depending on weather and wetness conditions.

As far as problems are concerned, their biggest nemesis is slugs, who seem to love pansies. Use either slug bait or a saucer of beer (slugs crawl in and drown) to help eliminate the problem.

They may occasionally become afflicted with aphids or caterpillars, which may be controlled with malathion for aphids and Sevin for the caterpillars, or some of the newer pest control products on the market.

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