Did you Know. The name ‘pansy’ is derived from the French word pensée meaning “thought”, and was so named because the flower resembles a human face, in August it nods forward as if deep in thought. Because of this the pansy has long been a symbol of Freethought.
In Scandinavia, Scotland, and German speaking countries, the pansy (or its wild parent Viola tricolor) is or was known as the stepmother flower.
In Italy the pansy is known as flammola (little flame).
In Hungary it is known as árvácska (small orphan).
In Israel, the pansy is known as the “Amnon v’Tamar”, or Amnon and Tamar, after biblical characters.
In The United States, pansies have been colloquially referred to as “football flowers” because of the Milwaukee “Football” or soccer decorations that use white chrysanthemums and black pansies to create a soccer ball. No flower gets quite as black as a pansy.
American pioneers thought that “a handful of violets taken into the farmhouse in the spring ensured prosperity, and to neglect this ceremony brought harm to baby chicks and ducklings.”
Pansies are another showy Fall, Winter and Spring flowering garden plant worth considering to plant in your Fall garden.
Pansies will bloom Spring through early Summer, with repeat blooming in the Fall. In USDA hardness zones 7 – 9 can grow pansies throughout the winter and there are newer varieties, like the ice pansy, are bred to withstand light snows and may over Winter in zone 6 and with a little protection may even over Winter as far north as zone 5.
Pansies are popular and a recognizable cool weather annuals. Breeding has produced Pansies that are better able to stand up to the cold, but there hasn’t been much luck producing more heat tolerant varieties. Many Pansies are bi-colored, making them striking plants for their small size. Although delicate, they are surprisingly hardy.
Compact, low growers, Pansies are ideal for edging and for squeezing between rock walls and paths, as long as they can be removed in summer. They’re a great choice for early and late season containers and complement spring flowering bulbs, flowering as the bulb foliage begins to fade. If you like the variety of colors but still want a sense of cohesion, select plants from the same series. They’ll be similar in size and markings, regardless of the color.
Pansies are not fussy plants, they will grow best in a loose, rich soil with a slightly acid soil. They flower best in full sun and will get spindly in deep shade. Pansies do not like heat at all and will begin to decline as the days warm up. When buying plants, choose pansies that are stocky, bushy and have plenty of buds. Avoid buying plants with full open blooms. **Growing Note: Pansies can be difficult to start from seed.
You can allow your Pansy plants to remain in your garden and rest during the hottest months, they will probably begin blooming again in the Fall. Shearing the plants back when they start to set seed, will encourage new growth. Dead heading will encourage more blooms.
Occasionally aphids will attack Pansies. Insecticidal soap should remove them. I have found a mixture of ‘Blue Dawn’ dish soap (2 ounces per gallon) to be cheap and very effective in killing aphids.
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