Growing Pansies

PansiesOne of the most widely grown of all garden flowers, pansies (Viola x wittrockiana), also known as violas, will bloom in a variety of colors all summer long and thrives in cool, wet spring time conditions. Excellent in containers, rock gardens, borders or edging. Plants are short lived in hot environments. Self-seeding perennial (grown as an annual in the North), 4-10 inches tall.

Site Preparation:

Pansies thrive in cool, rich, moist, well-drained soil. They prefer partial shade, but will tolerate full sun where summers are cool. Add plenty of compost, or other organic matter, to the soil prior to planting to help retain moisture, and prevent plants from wilting during the heat of the day.

How to Plant:

Pansies may be grown from seed or seedling. Mature plants are also widely available in cell-packs from local garden centers, greenhouses and nurseries. If growing pansies from seed, sow indoors 1/4 inch deep, 10-12 weeks before planting out. Seeds will germinate in 10-14 days. Transplant when the spring temperatures are still cool and a light frost is possible. Set transplants at six inch intervals and provide deep, weekly waterings to promote strong growth and good flowering. Remove spent flowers on a regular basis to extend the blooming period and apply organic fertilizer several times during the growing season.

Insects and Disease:

Aphids, spider mites and slugs may appear on pansies. Watch closely and apply diatomaceous earth or other natural pest control, when necessary. Common plant diseases include anthracnose, black root rot and some fungal leaf spots. Treat early with an organic fungicide (sulfur, copper) and avoid overhead watering, to prevent problems.

Seed Saving Instructions:

Violas or pansies are well known for being self-seeders. Seeds can be collected by cutting the entire plant in late summer after blooming has ceased. Dry plants on a sheet and collect the tiny black seeds.

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