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Viola x wittrockiana (Pansy)

Pansy, Garden Pansy

Viola x wittrockiana, Pansy, Garden Pansy, Shade plants, shade perennial, violet flowers, plants for shade, fragrant perennials
Viola x wittrockiana, Pansy, Garden Pansy, Shade plants, shade perennial, violet flowers, plants for shade, fragrant perennials

What is Pansy?

Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) is a biennial or short-lived perennial, often grown as an annual. It is prized for its charming, face-like blooms and wide range of colors and patterns. Pansies are hybrid plants derived from several species within the Viola genus and are part of the Violaceae family. They are often grown as annuals or short-lived perennials, depending on the climate.

Growth Habit: Pansy flowers are compact, mounding plants with a bushy growth habit. Their leaves are generally oval or heart-shaped, with a slightly toothed edge.

Size: They generally grow 6-10 inches (15-25 cm) tall and wide, making them suitable for various garden settings.

Flowers: Pansy flowers come in a wide range of colors, including shades of red, blue, purple, yellow, and white. Many have contrasting “faces” or blotches on the petals. The blooms are 1-3 inches (2-7 cm) in diameter, with five rounded petals.

Blooming Season: Pansies are cool-season plants that bloom from early spring to early summer in cooler climates. In warmer climates, they can bloom from fall through winter and into early spring.

Hardiness: Pansies are generally grown as annuals, but they can sometimes act as short-lived perennials in milder climates. They are hardy in USDA zones 6-10, but perform best in cooler temperatures.

Uses: Pansies are popular for use in flower beds, borders, containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets. They also make excellent ground covers and can be used to add color to rock gardens or as edging plants along pathways.

Deer and rabbit resistance: While not entirely immune to browsing by deer and rabbits, pansies are generally less appealing to these animals, which can help protect your garden from damage.

What is Special about Pansy Flowers?

Pansy flowers are special for several reasons, which make them popular among gardeners and plant enthusiasts:

Wide range of colors: Pansies come in a vast array of colors, including shades of red, blue, purple, yellow, and white. The diverse color palette allows gardeners to create stunning displays and incorporate pansies into various garden themes.

Unique patterns: Many pansy flowers have distinctive “faces” or blotches on their petals, which give them a unique and charming appearance. The patterns vary from subtle to bold, adding visual interest to any planting.

Edible flowers: Pansy flowers are edible and have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. They can be used as a garnish, in salads, or to decorate cakes and desserts, making them a versatile addition to the garden.

Cool-season blooming: Pansies bloom during the cooler months of the year, providing color and beauty when many other plants are dormant or not yet blooming. 

Attracts pollinators: Pansies attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, providing an essential source of nectar when other plants may not be available.

Easy to grow: Pansies are relatively low-maintenance and can tolerate a range of growing conditions, making them a popular choice for beginner gardeners.

Versatility in the landscape: Pansies are well-suited for various garden settings, including flower beds, borders, containers, window boxes, hanging baskets, and as ground covers or edging plants.

Symbolism: Pansies have been used as a symbol of remembrance and love in various cultures, making them a popular choice for commemorative plantings and sentimental gifts.

These unique features make pansy flowers special and beloved among gardeners for their beauty, versatility, and ease of cultivation.

Are Pansies Annual or Perennial Flowers?

Pansies are typically grown as annuals, completing their life cycle within one growing season. However, in some milder climates, they may act as short-lived perennials, returning for a second year. Pansies perform best in cooler temperatures and provide vibrant color during the cool months of spring and fall or even winter in warmer regions.

What is the difference between pansies and violets?

Pansies and violets are both members of the Viola genus, but they have distinct characteristics that set them apart:

Flower size: Pansies generally have larger flowers, 1-3 inches (2-7 cm) in diameter, while violets have smaller flowers, usually less than an inch across.

Flower colors and patterns: Pansies come in a wide range of colors, including shades of red, blue, purple, yellow, and white, often with contrasting “faces” or blotches on the petals. Violets typically have more limited color options, with flowers mainly in shades of blue, purple, white, and sometimes yellow. Violets usually lack the distinctive blotches found on pansy petals.

Fragrance: Violets are known for their sweet fragrance, which is especially noticeable in some species, such as the sweet violet (Viola odorata). Pansies generally have a milder fragrance or may not be fragrant at all.

Light requirements: Violets tend to be more shade-tolerant, often thriving in partial to full shade. Pansies, on the other hand, prefer full sun to partial shade, although they benefit from some afternoon shade in hot climates or during the warmer months.

Growth habit: Pansies usually have a more compact and bushy growth habit, making them popular choices for borders, containers, and bedding plants. Violets can have a more spreading habit, and some species may form colonies through self-seeding or underground rhizomes, making them suitable for ground covers or naturalized plantings.

Classification: Pansies are hybrids, often derived from crosses between Viola tricolor and other Viola species, while violets are naturally occurring species within the Viola genus.

These differences make pansies and violets distinct and versatile choices for various garden settings, with each offering unique beauty and charm.

Garden Design with Pansy Flowers

Pansy flowers can be a versatile and colorful addition to your garden design. Here are some ideas for incorporating pansies into your landscape:

Flower beds and borders: Plant pansies in clusters or drifts in flower beds and borders to create a striking display of color. Combine them with other cool-season annuals like snapdragons, primroses, and calendula or perennials like hostas, ferns, and coral bells.

Containers and window boxes: Pansies are excellent choices for container gardens, window boxes, and hanging baskets. Mix them with other cool-season plants like ornamental kale, ivy, or trailing lobelia for a visually appealing arrangement.

Edging and pathways: Use pansies as an edging plant along walkways, garden paths, or around garden beds. Their compact size and bright colors make them an eye-catching choice for defining spaces in the garden.

Rock gardens: Pansies can add a pop of color to rock gardens, nestled among the stones and other alpine plants. Their low-growing habit makes them a suitable choice for this type of garden design.

Ground covers: Plant pansies en masse as a ground cover, filling in spaces beneath trees, shrubs, or taller perennials. Their dense growth habit helps suppress weeds and adds color to otherwise bare areas.

Mixed planting schemes: Integrate pansies into mixed planting schemes with bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. As pansies bloom at the same time as many spring bulbs, they can provide additional color and fill gaps between emerging bulb foliage.

Winter interest: In milder climates, pansies can provide color and interest during the winter months when many other plants are dormant. Plant them in late fall for continuous color throughout the winter and into early spring.

When designing your garden with pansy flowers, consider their color, size, and growth habit. Select complementary plants that thrive in similar growing conditions and provide contrast in texture, form, and height. By incorporating pansies into various areas of your garden, you can enjoy their vibrant beauty and charm throughout the cool months of the year.

Growing Tips

Here are some helpful tips for successfully growing pansies in your garden:

Soil: Pansies prefer well-draining, fertile soil with a pH between 5.5 and 5.8. Amend the planting area with compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil structure and fertility.

Light: Plant pansies in a location with full sun to partial shade. In warmer climates or during hot months, provide some afternoon shade to protect them from excessive heat.

Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Pansies prefer evenly moist conditions, so water them regularly, especially during dry periods or when grown in containers.

Fertilization: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer at planting time and supplement with a liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks during the growing season to promote healthy growth and prolific blooming.

Deadheading: Remove spent blooms regularly to encourage continuous flowering and prevent the plant from setting seed, which can shorten the blooming period.

Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Protect from frost: In colder climates, cover pansies with a frost cloth or move containers to a sheltered location when frost is expected to protect the plants and extend their blooming period.

Watch for pests and diseases: Monitor your pansies for common pests like aphids, slugs and snails, as well as diseases like powdery mildew and root rot. Address any issues promptly with appropriate treatments or cultural practices.

By following these pansy growing tips, you can enjoy the vibrant colors and charming blooms of these popular cool-season flowers in your garden.

Violets (Viola): How to Grow and Care with Success


Want to learn how to grow and care for Violets like a pro? Follow these simple steps and enjoy the beauty of these charming plants

Requirements

Hardiness 6 - 10
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A1, A2, A3, H1, H2
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Violaceae
Genus Viola
Common names Pansy
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 6" - 10"
(15cm - 25cm)
Spread 10" - 1'
(25cm - 30cm)
Spacing 10" - 12"
(25cm - 30cm)
Maintenance Average
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Evergreen
Tolerance Deer
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Edging, Patio And Containers, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles Traditional Garden, City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
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Viola (Violet)
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Viola palustris (Marsh Violet)
Viola sempervirens (Evergreen Violet)
Viola pedatifida (Prairie Violet)
Viola glabella (Pioneer Violet)
Viola rotundifolia (Round-Leaved Violet)
Viola cucullata (Marsh Blue Violet)

Recommended Companion Plants

Tulipa ‘Mount Tacoma’ (Double Late Tulip)
Myosotis sylvatica (Wood Forget-Me-Not)
Erysimum ‘Apricot Twist’ (Wallflower)
Iberis sempervirens (Evergreen Candytuft)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

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Viola (Violet)
Native Plant Alternatives to Viola tricolor (Johnny Jump up)
Pansies: How to Grow and Care with Success
Violets (Viola): How to Grow and Care with Success
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 6 - 10
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A1, A2, A3, H1, H2
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Violaceae
Genus Viola
Common names Pansy
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 6" - 10"
(15cm - 25cm)
Spread 10" - 1'
(25cm - 30cm)
Spacing 10" - 12"
(25cm - 30cm)
Maintenance Average
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Evergreen
Tolerance Deer
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Edging, Patio And Containers, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles Traditional Garden, City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Viola (Violet)
Not sure which Viola (Violet) to pick?
Compare Now

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