Pansies are cold-hardy plants that will bloom in late fall, early winter and early spring, when most other plants could not survive. While the plant itself is hardy, it appears very delicate. Pansies are in the plantae kingdom, the magnoliophyta division, magnoliopsida class, violaes order, violaceae family, biola genua and of the tricolour species. Pansies are very popular among growers because they are easy to plant and require little maintenance.
Pansies are forever connected to violas. An unnamed individual found a flower that looked like a viola growing wild sometime after the 4th century B.C. in Europe and named it "wild pansy." It's believed the flower was discovered in France because the word pansy comes from the French word "pansee," which means to remember. Violas and the wild pansy began getting crossed by flower breeders in the 1800s and many different varieties of pansies were available by 1850.
The leaves of the pansy plant are oval and/or heart-shaped. The blooms are round and have five petals. The flowers come in three basic colour patterns: face, single and clear colour. Face pansies have a dark centre. Single patterns are solid-coloured flowers that have black lines that start in the centre of the flower and radiate out. Clear patterns are solid-coloured pansies.
Besides the beauty pansies provide to their growing environments, they are edible and high in vitamins C and A. The blooms have a strong flavour and have been used to garnish salads and soups and to make flavoured honey and syrups throughout history. The flowers can also be used as dye. Pansy petals are often used in potpourri. The blue and yellow flowers are the most aromatic.
Pansies can be planted in the ground or in containers. They grow to a height and spread of 8 to 10 inches and do best when planted six inches apart in sunny areas. Pansies should be watered when their soil dries out. Mulching around pansies with organic material such as leaves and pine needles will help the soil conserve moisture. The mulch also retards weed growth. Pansies will bloom well into the late fall and winter in most Southern locations.
Pests and Diseases
Aphids, spider mites and slugs are the known pests of the pansy. Root rot, leaf spot and mildew are the known diseases that can affect pansies.