Pansies are hybrid plants that have been cultivated as garden flowers. Particularly colourful, they are derived from the Viola species!
Just two to three inches across, Pansy flowers have slightly overlapping upper petals. There are usually two side petals and often a single one at the bottom with a slight beard emanating from the flower’s centre.
This plant may grow to nine inches if given plenty of sunlight and moist well-draining soil, thus, modern Pansies are cultivated with horticulturists having developed the following wide range of colors: yellow, gold, orange, purple, violet, red, white and even black or very dark purple.
Pansies are biennials which means they are a flowering plant that takes two years to complete its biological lifecycle. In the first year the plant grows leaves, stems and roots before entering a period of dormancy over the winter.
Surviving freezing temperatures even during their blooming season, this species will grow well in sunny or partially sunny positions. Nowadays, due to selective human breeding, most garden Pansies bloom the first year with some in as little as nine weeks after sowing and aren’t they just beautiful to look at?
Usually purchased as six-packs of young plants from garden centers and planted directly into the garden soil, Pansies are treated as annuals by the home gardener meaning they will germinate, flower and die in one year or season even though they are biennials.
In hotter climates, Pansies may re-seed themselves and return the next year though usually they are not very heat-tolerant. Hot temperatures inhibit blooming and warm air causes rot and death.
Sadly, when Pansies are subjected to devastation by snails and slugs they pick up several diseases, most of which are fungal.
Pansies are happiest in zones with moderate temperatures and equal amounts of mild rainfall and sunshine which is perhaps why they are so popular in the UK. Needing watering thoroughly once a week, plant food should be used every other week to maximise blooming, thus, regular deadheading can extend the blossoming period.
Pansy is a word derived from the French for “thought” and it resembles a child‘s face, often showing facial marks. This beautiful flower has attracted the attention of poets and artists, thus, wild Pansies have been noted in herbal folklore medicine being attributed with many properties; falling in love as a Pansy property was probably the invention of William Shakespeare in Midsummer Night’s Dream!