By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner
Pansies are one
of the most widely known and best loved of all the
cultivated flowers. It is my favorite annual flower
for a few reasons. First is that they are almost pest
and disease free. Since we plant and enjoy them during
the fall, winter, and spring when most insects and
disease are dormant or not very active we don’t have to spray or bait for pests. Second,
they grow during the time of the year when the rains
help us to water so we don’t have to be as concerned
about irrigation. Third is the magnificent range of colors
and shades available. No other flower has such a great
pallet of colors to choose from. They can be found in
shades from pale and soft to bright and vivid. For those
of us who like blue flowers, the pansy is without peer
in the range of blue colors-from pale sky blue to deep
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 that will be all uniform
in size and shading. Majestic Giants 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 our area where
the minimum winter temperatures don’t drop below 10 to 20 degrees pansies and violas
are grown as a winter plant. Planted in the fall, they
can survive the freezes and snowfall of the upper foothills.
They do not grow well in heat, so we don’t grow
them as summer annuals.
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,
such as Master Nursery ‘Bud and Bloom’ to
the water about once a month.