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» Articles » Flowers » The Pansy is No Pansy

The Pansy is No Pansy

by Douglas L. Bishop on 3/6/2008 15:05


Sometimes the word "pansy" is used in slang-like fashion as a term of contempt to imply a being of rather lightweight, delicate makeup.

How ironic that the tough little showy annual/biennial which does so much to add color to your garden in cool weather bears this name.

The garden pansy or viola, though appearing to be quite fragile, is actually a very scrappy little rascal able to survive and thrive under rather harsh conditions.

These eager little fellows start showing up in your local garden centers in the early fall just as your summer-blooming annuals are fading away and closing down their show.

Though they aren’t very big (usually not much more than 6”-8” in height), they’re strong enough to do much of the heavy lifting in terms of providing color to your garden in some pretty cold weather, one of few plants capable of doing this.

I’ve seen beds of them peeking brightly through the snow.

They like the cool conditions, and in fact will burn out in the heat of summer, or at least refuse to bloom.

Plant them about 8” to10” inches apart in a rich, moist, well-drained soil in a sunny location.

They will flourish clustered in beds or containers or spread out in borders, providing a brilliant show of colors: red, purple, yellow, pink, white, and orange.

The flowers have a characteristic “face-like” darker patch on the petals, adding to their uniqueness.

They can also be cut and displayed in the house in a small vase with water added.

The flowering season of the growing pansy will be prolonged if the blooms are promptly picked as they begin to fade.

These little cold weather wonders will produce quite a rewarding show for you throughout the bleak months of winter and into spring.

So treat them well and when you call them “pansies,” be sure you say that with the proper respect these tough little work-horses deserve!

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