Viola wittrockiana

Common name - Pansy

Pansies are a member of the Viola family although the hybrid garden pansy is generally classified as V x wittrockiana.

The smaller varieties commonly known as Viola are generally classified as either V x cornuta or V x tricolour (Heartsease)

The flower size across the genus can vary from about 20mm (¾”) which is generally accepted as a Viola to the many hybrids (Pansies) which can measure 100mm (4”) across.

Cultivation of both types is similar, however wittrockiana are often sold as Winter and Summer flowering, so for that reason this article will be dedicated to v x wittrockiana.

Pansies are short-lived perennials that tend to deteriorate after their first year of bloom, so for this reason they are generally grown as annuals or biennials.

The hardiness of Pansies make them a popular cool weather annual.

Sadly, breeding seems to have only produced pansies that can stand up to the cold, but there has been little progress in producing more heat tolerant varieties.

With prudent sowings and choice of varieties pansies can be grown for most of the year.

Some varieties will grow from spring through to early summer,then flower again in autumn, and some varieties have been bred to withstand light snowfalls.

Pansies are compact and low growing 150-250mm (6"-10") making them a useful plant for borders,rockeries,and subject to variety for early and late season baskets and containers.

The summer flowering varieties bloom from June to October and, the winter flowering varieties start to flower in late autumn, continuing through the winter into spring.





Deadhead the flowers as they fade to maintain a succession of blooms and to reduce the chances of self seeding.

Shearing the plants back when they start to set seed, will encourage new growth.

Pests and Diseases:

Slugs can be a nuisance during wet seasons, especially if growing in partial shade, treat this situation with a proprietory slug killer.

Occasionally plants can be attacked by aphids!

In the event of this, treat the plants with an insecticidal soap.

Cultivation

Summer Flowering varieties:

Week 10: Sow seed in trays of seed compost and cover with vermiculite then germinate at a temperature of 18°-20°C (64° -68°F).

Pansies can be difficult to start from seed but covering the soil with black plastic will help germination.

Check daily to ensure that they don't dry out under the plastic.

Once the shoots are visible, the plastic should be removed.

Germination should take about seven to ten days.

Week 14: Prick out seedlings into 75mm (3") pots/cell trays of potting compost, and grow on at a temperature of around 14°-16°C (57°-61°F) until planting out time.

Avoid excessive heat as this will force the plants to produce elongated growth.

Week 16: Gradually harden off plants.

Week 22: Plant out 200mm (8") apart.

Pansies grow best in a light fertile soil that is slightly acid (pH 6 - 6.2),and preferably in full sun although they will tolerate partial shade.

Deep shade should be avoided, as this can create spindly growth.

Apply a monthly foliar feed but avoid overfeeding as this can encourage stem and leaf growth at the expense of flowers.

Winter Flowering varieties:

Week 25: Sow seed in trays of seed compost and cover with vermiculite, then germinate at a temperature of 18°-20°C (64° -68°F).

As mentioned previously, covering the soil with black plastic will help germination.

Check daily to ensure that they don't dry out under the plastic.

Once the shoots are visible, the plastic should be removed.

Prevent the build up of higher temperatures as this can adversely affect germination.

Germination should take about seven to ten days.

Week 28: Take 50mm (2") tip cuttings of non flowering basal shoots and insert into trays/pots of equal parts (by volume) peat and sharp sand, and place in a cold frame to root.

Once rooted, pot up individual plants into 75mm (3") pots of potting compost, and grow on at a temperature of around 14°-16°C (57°-61°F) until planting out time.

Week 29: Prick out seedlings into 75mm (3") pots/cell trays of potting compost, and grow on at a temperature of around 14°-16°C (57°-61°F) until planting out time.

Avoid excessive heat as this will force the plants to produce spindly growth.

Week 30: Place plants in cold frame to grow on until planting time.

Week 40: Plant out 200mm (8") apart.

Week 6: (The following year) Remove dead flowers and seed pods where applicable.





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