Pansies are a very popular annual flower that does well in the cool weather. They share the genus Viola and many are hybrids that have a lot of similarities. They have pretty flowers that overlap and have the shape of a heart. They come in bright colors as well as bi-colors with markings that resemble a face.
Pansies are small and they handle cool weather well but they do not like the heat. They are delicate but they are hardy at the same time. They are actually edible as well.
Pansies are hardy in USDA zones 7 and higher and they do not last well as perennials. People usually grow pansies as annuals or biennials. They do well during cooler times of the year and they have trouble with heat. They are popular in window boxes and containers during the early spring and late fall.
Pansies do not normally grow very tall, reaching an average height of four to eight inches, and they will flop over if they grow much above that. They spread from eight to twelve inches. Botanists have been able to grow varieties of pansies that can tolerate even colder temperatures, with the ice pansy able to survive light snow.
It is tricky to grow pansies from seed because they require the temperature to stay around 60 degrees Fahrenheit and they need darkness. You can cover the pot with black plastic but make sure that you check on it every day to ensure that it doesn’t get too dry. They will take up to 15 weeks to bloom.
When you buy pansies, they should be short and stocky with a number of buds. Try to stay away from pansies that have open blooms. If they have opened, they may not survive due to the stress.
People often ask whether pansies are annual or perennial. They can be treated as either but are normally planted as an annual because they prefer cooler temperatures. They can even survive a frost and bloom in late fall to early winter.
Planting: As stated, it is easier to buy pansies that are ready to bloom. If you start them from seeds, do so inside between eight and ten weeks prior to the last spring frost. You should plant grown pansies as soon as the ground is loose enough to dig and plant in the spring.
Pansies prefer soil temperatures between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Pansies will grow in either full or partial sun but they need cool temperatures. You want to plant them in a spot where they have sunlight in the morning and shade later in the day.
You should plant the pansies between seven and twelve inches apart as they will spread. They will grow to be between six and nine inches in height.
Watering: Pansies need to be watered regularly. Keep in mind that they will not last into the hottest summer months regardless of how much you water them.
Heat and Cold: Pansies do well in cooler temperatures with some varieties able to survive light snow. They do not do well in the hottest part of the summer. If you want them to last, you must bring them indoors.
Fertilizing: Pansies do well with fertilizer but do not over-fertilize as it will make them too leggy. Stick with a general purpose fertilizer.
How to Handle Potential Pests and Disease
You should guard against the following types of pests and diseases.
1 – Mosaic Viruses
This type of virus causes leaves to show streaks or spots in dark green, light green, white, or yellow. They almost resemble blisters and they stunt the growth of the plant. The leaves may also appear wrinkled or wavy.
Once your pansies are infected with this virus, there is no treatment. You need to remove the infected plants and destroy them.
You can try to prevent this virus from affecting your plants. It tends to be spread by aphids and other insects so having beneficial predatory insects on hand, such as ladybugs, will help. Some weeds also serve as a host so make sure that you pull your weeds regularly.
2 – Downy Mildew
Downy mildew is a disease caused by an organism called Peronospora violae. This fungus is only a threat to pansies during periods of cool, wet weather. You will notice pale patches on the tops of the leaves with a fuzzy gray growth on the bottom.
It is necessary to immediately remove the infected leaves. Make sure that they do not fall into and contaminate the soil. In addition, you want to rotate your pansies by alternating where you plant them from year to year.
3 – Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew is a white fungus that grows on pansies. It weakens the plant and makes it bloom less. This disease thrives in different climates but it requires humidity to spread. The mildew is made up of spores that carry the disease from plant to plant through the air.
Your pansies will appear to be dusted in powder and it begins as white spots on the leaves and stems. The powder will spread and the leaves will dry out and become deformed before falling off and dying.
You need to remove any infected plants and destroy them. The disease can be spread easily so it is important to get rid of the infected plant entirely.
Make sure that your pansies are not overcrowded and do not water them from overhead. Prune them regularly to help the flow of air and water them earlier in the day so that they have time to dry. You can spray them with fungicides or a mixture of one teaspoon of baking soda and one quart of water.
4 – Rust
Rust plant disease is another fungal illness that affects pansies. It makes it harder for them to grow and hurts their flower production. It is caused by a fungus that is dependent on living plants for survival. It usually happens in areas with moisture and mild temperatures. The fungus has spores that are spread through the air by wind or by water.
You will see white or yellow spots on the leaves, followed by blisters that are orange to red in color. On the bottom of leaves, there will be orange and yellow spots that contain the spores.
You need to remove the infected plants and destroy them. Make sure that you pull weeds between plants and do not water from overhead. The splashing of water can spread the fungus.
You can dust the pansies early in the year with sulfur. This can prevent infection. Make sure that your pansies are spread apart at appropriate distances so that they have good air circulation. Make sure that you water your plants earlier in the day. If necessary, you can use a fungicide.
5 – Anthracnose
This is another fungal disease that can affect your pansies. It can spread very quickly during periods with a lot of rainfall. It will cause dark lesions on the leaves, stems, and flowers. It thrives in warm, moist conditions and spreads by water.
It will first appear as small yellow spots on the leaves. They will get darker and expand with time until the leaves are covered. You need to remove and destroy any infected plants. Try spraying a copper-based fungicide but use caution as copper can be toxic to earthworms if it builds up in the soil.
Try to prevent this fungus by planting your pansies in well-drained soil. Do not water from overhead and make sure that your pansies get their water earlier in the day so that they have time to dry. Alternate where you plant your pansies each year to prevent any fungi from getting into the bedded area.
6 – Slugs
Slugs are soft-bodied mollusks that are dark brown and approximately one inch in length. They like to stay in dark, moist places during the day and they feed at night. You will know that they are there by the damage as well as the trail of slime they leave behind.
To find the slugs, dig a trench and place a piece of wood over it. When you uncover it in the daytime, you will probably find them hiding there. They feed on your pansies and they will leave big gaping holes in the leaves and flowers.
You can use the wood mentioned above to create a trap to get rid of them. Then place them in the freezer for a minimum of three hours before dumping them in your compost pile. You can also leave out dishes with beer in them, which will attract the slugs.
Wood ashes are a good slug repellant and you can sprinkle them around your pansies.
Types of Pansies
Joker Series: These pansies bloom in spring and summer. They are bi-colored with orange flowers with purple outlines and upper petals.
Princess Series: These pansies come in many colors but they are monochromatic. They can be blue-yellow or purple with yellow centers.
Fama Series: These pansies flower in the spring and winter and they come in various single and mixed colors.
Bingo Series: These pansies have large flowers and they come in fourteen different colors. They bloom earlier in the spring.