VIOLA & PANSY: Keeping the Colder Months Colourful

 I am sure that you are feeling that definite change in the temperature too!  For some, the approaching colder months bring joy and they thrive and for others less excited about the cold, a little Winter depression might set in.  However, whether we love or dislike any specific season, each season proudly presents its own platter of blooms and palette of beautiful colours.
Take Violas and Pansies for instance!  These delicate looking lovelies provide a cheerful and colourful display in the colder months.  Being short-lived perennials, you will need to replace them every few years.  Most of the time they will die during the heat of the Summer and will need to be replaced the next season.  If they are kept alive during Summer, you will have no problem to grow them for either Spring or Autumn blooms. 
An interesting fact, as you surely know, is that all Pansies are technically Violas, however, not all Violas are Pansies! Both Viola and Pansy are European plants.  The word Pansy is derived from the French word, pensée, which literally means thought. Voila !! traduire une bonne pensée. Unless you are an expert, it can be a bit difficult to tell one from the other.  Just count the petals! Pansies have four petals which point up and only one pointing down.  Violas have two petals pointing up and three pointing down. Although the size and spread are usually a clear indicator. Being a bit smaller than Pansies, Violas have more blooms per plant and create a thicker layer of coverage.  Violas are also tougher during Winter and can recover after intense cold and frost. Pansies are naturally a more popular option though.  But keep an open mind.  If you are looking for the hardiest plants, consider the mighty but small Viola.  Should you prefer bigger blooms, the Pansy will be right up your alley.  Growing both Violas and Pansies from seed is easy. You can elect to start to your seeds both inside and outside.  You only need a good seed starter growing medium and seedling trays. 
Both Viola and Pansies are good options for both garden beds and container growing.  They do well in full sun but may bloom longer in partial shade. If you are planting them for their scent, it would be best to select either yellow or blue blooms as they have the strongest scent. 
What is Pansy sickness?
The fungus linked to unsterilized animal manure, stem rot, also known as Pansy sickness, is caused by a fungus-like organism Pythium Violae and is related to the species that causes damping off in seedlings.  Mildew, see above, can also occur when there is not enough airflow in gardens and the air is damp.  This is a violet-grey powder that occurs on the fringes and underside of the leaves.  The cucumber mosaic virus is transmitted by aphids and plants with this virus have a fine yellow veining on young leaves.  Aphids are a nightmare, so spray your plants with an organic pest control product.  Soapy water also works quite well to keep aphids away. 

Go On...Colour your Winter Beautiful!


About the Author

Michele Fourie is the Seeds for Africa General Manager. Michele loves growing beautiful flowers, chilli plants and is passionate about exceptional customer. service. Michele is also a fundi in the kitchen. Check out her blog post on making your own sweet pickled piquant cherry peppers at this link.