Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Plant Profile: Pansy and Viola

Plant Profile:  Pansy and Viola (Viola sp.)
Pansies and Violas are easy-care flowers that thrive in cool weather and add a bright spot to garden beds and container plantings.  

These aren’t your grandmother’s old-fashioned flowers. Pansies and violas now come in dozens of colors, color combinations, bloom sizes, and growth habits (from mounding types to trailing). Recent introductions have also improved their cold tolerance and blooming vigor as well.

There are more than 500 known species of violas and they are indigenous to every continent except Antarctica, according to Barbara Melera of

By the way, did you know the differences between a pansy and a viola? Though pansies, are generally large than violas. It is actually the petal count and position that differentiates them. Pansies have 4 petals pointing upward and only 1 pointing down. Violas have 3 petals pointing upward and 2 pointing down.

Pansies and violas (also known as Johnny Jump Ups) can be started from seed in the fall for spring blooms or in the spring for summer and fall blooms.

Pansies and violas are perennials that are hardy from Zone 3 to 9. Though they are short-lived plants and are usually treated as cool-season annuals.

They prefer a highly composted, evenly moist soil and they bloom best in full-to-part sun.

They go dormant in the heat of the summer and coldest parts of winter, but will begin to bloom again when the weather is more temperate in spring and fall. 

Give them a slow-release fertilizer mixed into the soil when planting them or added as a top dressing after planting. The best time to fertilize pansies and violas is in the early spring and again in late summer as they come out of their dormancy for fall blooming.

To keep them looking their best, deadhead them regularly (that is, removing the spent flowers and stems). When they become leggy and overgrown, you can cut back the whole plant to a couple of inches high to rejuvenate it.

In the winter, lightly mulch around the plants and keep them watered. If they are in container, it is especially important to not let them dry out in the harsh winter winds.

Great companions to pansies and violas are snapdragons and sweet alyssum.

Pansies and Violas: You can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.
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