Pansies and violas are a great addition to any fall or winter flowerbed. They are cold weather tolerant and they are winter flowering, making them an easy addition for a colourful display in borders or containers.
What’s the difference? Pansies and violas look a lot alike. The pansy’s botanical name is Viola x wittrockiana. This can cause confusion, but generally, ‘pansy’ refers to viola varieties with much larger flowers, while violas have smaller blooms but produce more of them. Of the two, pansies are best for flowering in autumn and winter, while violas tend to bloom better in spring. Violas are smaller than pansies, and they bloom abundantly.
Planting Ideally, plant your pansy plants in borders or pots during September and early October – this will give them a better chance to grow sturdy roots and flowers. Winter pansies are a versatile plant, allowing you to plant them in flower beds, borders, pots, window troughs and hanging baskets. When planting, incorporate a good multi-purpose compost into your soil, and add horticultural grit if the soil is heavy. Dig an individual hole for each plant, and plant pansies at no more than 10cms apart.
To lengthen the blooming period of your pansies, pinch out flower heads that have finished blooming to ensure that nutrients aren’t wasted. These removed heads will grow new buds, producing more flowers that will last for a longer period.