|Binomial:||Viola x wittrockiana|
|Type:||Cool season perennial|
|Bloom season:||Cool season: autumn through spring|
The Pansy or Pansy Violet is a low-growing plant cultivated for its showy flowers. It is derived from the wildflower called the Heartsease or Johnny Jump Up (Viola tricolor), and is sometimes given the subspecies name Viola tricolor hortensis. However, many garden varieties are hybrids and are referred to as Viola × wittrockiana. The name "pansy" also appears as part of the common name of a number of wild flowers belonging, like the cultivated Pansy, to the violet genus Viola. One or two unrelated flowers such as the Pansy Monkeyflower also have "pansy" in their name.
The pansy gets its name from the French word pensee meaning "thought". It was so named because the flower resembles a human face and in August it nods forward as if deep in thought. Because of the origin of its name, the Pansy has long been a symbol of Freethought and has been used in the literature of the American Secular Union. Humanists like the symbol also, as the pansy's current appearance was developed from the Heartsease by two centuries of intentional cross-breeding of wild plant hybrids. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) uses the pansy symbol extensively in its lapel pins and literature.
The pansy has two top petals overlapping slightly, two side petals, beards where the three lower petals join the center of the flower, a single bottom petal with a slight indentation. The flowers are referred to as "faces".
Pansies have extensively bred for colors ranging from gold and orange though to purple, violet, and a blue so deep as to be almost black. They are quite a hardy plant, growing well in sunny or partially sunny positions. Pansies are technically biennials that normally have two-year life cycles. The first year they only produce greenery; they bear flowers and seeds in their second year of growth, and afterwards die like annuals.
Most gardeners buy biennials as packs of young plants from the garden center and plant them directly into the garden soil. Gardeners interested in rarer cultivars can plant seeds indoors in early November for plants ready in the spring. Under good conditions, pansies and viola are perennial plants, although they are generally treated as annual or biennial plants because they get very leggy and overgrown after a few years. The mature plant grows to 9 inches (23 cm) high, and the flowers are two to three inches (about 6 cm) in diameter.
Pansies are hardy in USDA plant hardiness zone 4-8. They can survive light freezes or a little snow, but not for very long. In warmer climates, USDA plant hardiness zones 9-11, pansies can bloom over the winter, and are often planted in the fall. In these climates, pansies have been known to reseed themselves and come back the next year. Pansies are not very heat-tolerant - once the temperature gets over a certain point they will become leggy and stop blooming.
Pansies should be watered thoroughly about once a week, depending on climate and recent rainfall. For maximum bloom, plant food about every other week, according to the plant food directions. Regular deadheading can extend the blooming period.
Pests and Diseases
Cultivation, breeding and life cycle
Diseases and pests
Stem rot or pansy sickness
The plant may collapse without warning in the middle of season. The foliage will flag and lose color. Flowers will fade and shrivel prematurely. Stem will snap at the soil line if tugged slightly.
The plant is probably a total loss unless tufted.
Soil-borne fungus. Possible hazard with unsterilized animal manure.
Use Cheshunt or modern Benomyl fungicide prior to planting. Destroy (burn) infected plants.
2 parts finely ground copper sulphate 11 parts fresh ammonium carbonate
Mix thoroughly and stand for 2 hours in sealed container. Dissolve 1 ounce (28 g) in a little hot water and add this to 2 gallons of cold water and use immediately.
Puccinia aegra fungal infection. Yellow-brown spots on leaves and stem. Spray with Benomyl or Sulphide of Potassium (1 ounce to 2 1/2 gallons)
Ramularia deflectens fungal infection. Dark spots on leaf margins followed by a white web covering the leaves. Associated with cool damp springs. Spray with fungicide.
Oidium fungal infection. Violet-gray powder on fringes and underside of leaves. Caused by stagnant air. Can be limited but not necessarily eliminated by spraying (especially leaf undersides).
Cucumber mosaic virus
Transmitted by aphids. Fine yellow veining on young leaves, stunted growth, anomalous flowers. Virus can lay dormant, affect the entire plant and be passed to next generations and to other species. Prevention is key: purchase healthy plants, use ph-balanced soil which is neither too damp not too dry. Soil should have balanced amounts of nitrogen, phosphate, potash. Eliminate other diseases which may weaken the plant.
Slugs and snails
Lay sharp, gritty sand or top-dress soil with chipped bark. Clean area of leaves and foreign matter, etc.
Spray with diluted soft soap (2 ounce per gallon) Aphids are microscopic and lay eggs.
- Gaylor, Annie Laurie (June/July 1997). "Rediscovering A Forgotten Symbol Of Freethought - A Pansy For Your Thoughts". Freethought Today. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. http://archive.is/jIFI.