Pansies are one of the earliest flowering plants, blooming right alongside the spring bulbs. The name pansy is from the French word pensie, meaning thought or remembrance. The pansy is a delicate looking flower often with a "face".
Facts About Pansies
- Pansies are fragrant and edible blooms are desirable in gardens. The pansy is linked forever to the viola, its ancestor. Viola is a large genus containing 500 species.
- The viola family includes both pansies and violets, the former most loved for their perky faces and the latter for their pretty perfume.
- Pansy flowers are single with five petals that are rounded in shape.
- Pansy flowers have one of three basic color patterns. Blooms can be single, clear color, such as yellow or blue. A second pattern is a single color having black lines radiating from its center. These lines are called penciling and are similar to viola markings. The last type of flower is probably the one of the most familiar. The bloom of this type has a dark center called a "face".
- Some pansies have a delicate perfume-like aroma. Once you have smelled and identified the pansy scent, it is unforgettable. Pansies seem to exude more fragrance at early morning and dusk. The yellow or blue pansy flowers seem to have the strongest scent.
- Garden Pansies are grown during the winter in the South or Southwest and during the summer in the North. Pansy plant popularity increases possible due to its ease of growing.
- Whether grown from seed or bedding plants, pansies are relatively disease and pest free blooms. Pansies are certainly a plant for all seasons.
- The hardy but delicate viola was cultivated by the Greeks for herbal medicinal use and much later inspired William Shakespeare to write of romance.
Uses of Pansies
Both the leaves and flowers of pansies and violas are edible and high in vitamins A and C. The flowers impart a strong flavor and have been used to make syrup, flavored honey and salads. Both the leaves and flowers can be used as a garnish, such as on cold fruit or cream soups. The flowers are also useful as a dye.
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The pansy plant itself is compact, not more than 9 inches in both height and spread, and bears many stems. The medium green, coarsely notched leaves are oval or heart-shaped. Pansies are grown from seeds. They like full to partial sun. Pansies can be directly seeded into your flower garden or seeded indoors for transplanting later.
- Sow seeds early in the season and cover lightly with 1/8 inches of soil.
- Water thoroughly once. They germinate slowly.
- Transplant Pansy into your garden after the last frost date for your area. Space them 6 inch apart.
- Pansies will tolerate a little crowding.
- If you are creating a flower bed, you may want to create a pattern or color scheme prior to planting. Or, use mixed varieties.
Pansy Plant Care
- Pansies seldom have problems with insects and disease. If insect or disease problems occur, treat early with organic or chemical insect repellents and fungicide.
- If pansies fail to thrive it is often because neither nature nor the gardener provided enough water.
- Mulching around the pansies with 2 inches of organic material will help conserve moisture, and reduce weed growth.
- Water the soil (not the plant leaves) deeply.