Cool Weather Lovers: Pansies & Violas

Like characters in CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, there are days when we wonder if it will always be winter and possibly never Christmas.  As winter and spring continue to tussle over who is on top of the weather dog pile, we’re always on the lookout to kick start spring color.

Look no further, Pansies & Violas LOVE cool weather. Pansies are actually from the Viola family.  In the garden, Pansies tend to refer to the larger faced garden flowers and Violas have tiny flowers.   Pansies are our go-to flower for early spring container color here in Edmonton .  They can handle a little frost – up to -3C or possibly -5C, so they should withstand our cool spring nights.

Pansies & Violas are available in the entire color spectrum from white – through the rainbow’s ROYGBIV – to black.  Their happy faces can be clear, blotched, or whiskered; and their edges can be smooth or ruffled.  They will bloom all spring, summer, and fall. And, added to all of that, they are lightly scented AND edible.  Such a deal!

They are tough and easy to grow:

  • They will grow in garden beds, rock gardens and containers.
  • Favored locations are firstly partial sun, and then full sun – the partial sun will keep them cooler during the heat of summer.
  • They will grow in the ground ranging from fertile to poor soil, but for any garden, always avoid clay – not much of anything likes to grow in clay.
  • Pansies can stretch in hot weather from the heat, so they may need to be pinched back to keep them compact – just take out your scissors and give them a shaping haircut.
  • Pansies and Violas have few problems with insects & diseases.
  • Water them when the ground is dry. When watering, it’s always a good practice to water the soil and to avoid getting the leaves wet.  If plant material is soggy for long periods of the time, it will get leaf diseases and rot.
  • Mulching is always a great way to keep soil moist and roots cool.
  • Violas are known to overwinter in zone 3 and Pansies in zone 4. However, some varieties reseed and they start popping up at the end of April.

About blooming:

  • As mentioned, Pansies & Violas will bloom all season long but remember to keep them deadheaded; otherwise they will stop blooming and direct their energy to producing seed heads.
  • Another thing that keeps them blooming is a weekly application of fertilizer – Nature’s Best, 20-20-20, and Miracle Grow are good options for fertilizer.
  • They thrive in cooler weather, so spring and later summer are their favorite time to bloom – Pansies are often planted in the southern US states in the winter for flowerbed color.
  • Plant them in partial shade to keep them cool during the summer’s heat.
  • Their flowers & leaves are edible & can be used to add a great splash of colour for salads and fruit plates. Garnishing with flowers always generates great conversation at the table.

Come on in our greenhouse and find some Pansies or Violas to grace your front step, balcony, or veranda with early spring color.  They will add sparkle and colorful magic at a time when we are so over the winter drab…..

If you have any questions about Violas and Pansies, please feel free to call us on our phone at 780-467-3091 or send us a quick email – we would be happy to discuss this fun & hardy flower with you.

sources:  Reader’s Digest A_Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants by Brickell, Cole, & Zuk,