Pansies

Revised by John W. Jett, WVU Extension Specialist, Horticulture
Original Author: Clifford W. Collier, Jr., Extension Specialist, Landscape Architecture

Family: Violaceae
Scientific Name: Violax wittrockiana
Origin: Hybrid
Classification: Hardy biennial - bedding plant
Use: Window boxes, flower bed borders, hanging basket, strawberry jar and pots
Height: 6 to 9 inches
Spread: 9 to 12 inches
Hardiness: Hardy
Stems: Slender
Flowers: Appear in spring and fall when night temperatures are 40oF and day temperatures are 60oF. Available in solid colors of white, yellow, rich gold, bronze, and deep rose, violets, and maroons or combination of colors. Mixed colors have a center resembling a "monkey face."
Foliage: Dark green
Texture: Medium to fine
Growth Rate: Fast
Form: Spreading, with flowers borne on upright nodding stems.
Soil: Will grow in a wide variety of soils but grows best in a good garden loam, rich in organic matter and well drained.
Situation: Full sun - if too much shade, flower size and numbers are reduced and plant becomes spindly.
Insects & Diseases: Leafhoppers, aphids, violet sawfly, slugs; anthracnose, crown rot, leaf spots.
Remarks: Though a biennial pansy is grown as an annual, when plants begin to fade, discard and get ready for new plants or other annuals. Do not plant pansies in the same location for any more than three consecutive years.
Planting: Prepare beds well in advance incorporating a 2 inch layer of organic matter (decomposed manure is recommended). Sand may be added to improve drainage.

Plants may be grown from seed or seedlings, or mature plants may be purchased. Mature plants should be planted in their permanent location 4 to 6 weeks before frost. If seedlings are purchased, they may be planted directly into their permanent location, but it is better to plant them in another location in a specially prepared bed until they have 6 to 8 leaves. Then transplant into permanent location. Purchased seedlings should be stocky plants with 4 to 5 leaves.

Space plants 7 to 12 inches apart when permanently located.

If plants are purchased sprinkle them with water and let stand a while. When planting seedlings, separate the plants carefully and spread the roots. Firm the soil around the roots. Take care not to firm the soil too tightly or plant too deep. The crown should be above soil level. Water the plants well.

Maintenance: Watering- Apply 1 inch of water each week during growing season. Do not water in late afternoon or evenings. Remove faded flowers for continued bloom.

Fertilizing - Use a general, all-purpose fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 and apply at the rate of 1 level teaspoonful per square foot of bed. If soluble fertilizer is used, follow directions on label.

Apply fertilizer about 1 week after planting in fall and again in late fall or early winter and again in March.

During the growing season apply fertilizer every 3 to 4 weeks.

Remove spent flowers to prevent seed formation, to encourage more flowers, and to extend blooming period.

Growing Plants From Seed: Indoors

  1. Seed should be planted in July and August.
  2. Prepare a soil mixture composed of equal parts garden loam, organic matter, and sand. Sift and sterilize.
  3. Obtain a box 9 to 12 inches deep and fill with the soil.
  4. Water the soil well.
  5. After water has drained, sow seed in rows or broadcast.
  6. Cover seed with 1/8" of sifted soil or coarse sand.
  7. Firm with flat board and water again.
  8. After seed germinate (5 to 8 days) transplant into another flat at a 1" spacing.
  9. After first true leaves appear, transplant into individual pots or to permanent location in the garden.
  10. When the ground freezes, mulch to minimize temperature variations.
  11. In spring, begin maintenance practices.

Outdoors

If seeds are sown directly into the garden, prepare the soil to a depth of 9 to 12 inches incorporating a two-inch layer of organic matter and sand if needed. Sterilize.

Sow the seed the same as for planting indoors and follow the same procedure of transplanting.

Pests:

Disease - Anthracnose - brown areas with black margins, petals may develop abnormally.
Gray Mold - appears under conditions of extreme moisture.
Leaf Spot - produces spots on leaves beginning small and then covering the entire leaf, may spread to flowers.
Rust - red-brown pustules on upper side of leaf, appear light green on under surface.
Yellows - leaves turn yellow-green, stunted growth of plants.
Beets Yellows - leaves curl and flower size is diminished.

Suggested Varieties:

Swiss Giant

Alpenglow - cardinal shades Alpengluhn - mahogany-red
Berna - violet/blue Bruinig - mahogany-black, yellow border
Coronation Gold - canary yellow Eiger - yellow
Elite Mixture - mixed colors Fire Beacon - brick red
Giant Orange - orange/gold halo Grimsel - Mid-blue/deep purple
Hohenfeuer - orange Majestic Giant Mix - mixed colors
Lake of Thun - blue/dark center Raspberry Rose - pink with velvety blotch
Thunersee - deep blue White - pure white

Assorted Strains:

Color Carnival - mixed French Giants Blue Dream - blue/yellow center
Sunny Boy - yellow/black face Moon Moth - pure white
Jumbo Pay Dirt - golden yellow Jumbo Mixed - mixed