The Pansy ranks high in popularity among garden flowers—especially the magnificent large-flowered, richly colored strains of Pansy which modern seedsmen offer. Botanically the Pansy represents a horticultural development of Viola tricolor, a wild species. It belongs in the Violet family, the Violaceae. The word Pansy is from the French pensee, which means both thought and Pansy.
Pansies resemble bedding Violas but differ in being of less compact growth and having flowers which are usually larger and distinctly marked or blotched to give the appearance of a “face.”
Cultivation. Pansies thrive in cool, moist soil, and do best where they are shaded from the hottest sun. It is worth going to some trouble to prepare the soil for them by digging in plenty of old manure or compost, for such treatment results in an abundance of large flowers over a long period, especially if the growths are trimmed back when they become straggly.
Raising Plants. The simplest and best way of raising Pansies is from seeds. To have plants for setting out in the garden in fall or early spring to produce spring blooms, the seeds should be sown about the end of July. A cold frame located in a cool, shaded place outdoors and containing a bed of loose, well-drained soil that contains an abundance of organic matter is a good place to sow the seeds, but they may be sown with good success in drills made directly in the open ground.
As soon as the seedlings are big enough to handle with ease, they should be spaced 6-7 in. apart in outdoor beds or cold frames. Cultivation to keep down weeds must be practiced, and during dry weather the seedlings must be kept watered.
In cold sections the seedlings should remain in the beds or cold frames until spring, and it is wise to protect them with a light covering of salt marsh hay or some similar material. In mild localities they may be set out in the fall in the position where they are to bloom the following spring. Plants kept in cold frames over winter must be well ventilated on all favorable occasions. This is absolutely necessary if they are to make sturdy, well-rooted plants for setting out in their flowering locations in spring.
Seeds sown in a cool greenhouse in January and then transplanted into flats and kept growing in a temperature of 45-50 degrees will develop into sturdy little plants for setting out in spring. They will bloom later and for a longer season than, plants raised from seeds sown the previous summer.
Greenhouse Culture. For winter and early spring flowering in the cool greenhouse (night temperature 45-50 degrees), use seeds of Pansy strains especially recommended by seedsmen for greenhouse culture. Sow these seeds in June or July in a prepared seed bed out of doors or in a frame. The seedlings are transplanted to a lightly shaded nursery bed or frame and kept well supplied with water in dry weather. In September they are planted in their flowering pots or benches in the greenhouse. Such plants will produce blooms throughout the winter and give a lovely show in spring when they attain best growth.
In mild climates winter-flowering strains behave well and flower in winter when planted outdoors.
Cuttings. Specially good varieties of Pansies can be perpetuated by taking cuttings of young unflowered shoots in August-September and rooting them in a cold frame. If, when rooted, they are planted 6 in. apart in a sheltered nursery bed or cold frame, they will provide excellent material for setting in the flower beds in spring. This method of propagation is effective only where summers are not excessively hot; generally it is better to rely upon seed.
Later Treatment. Once the Pansies start blooming, they should be gone over regularly, once a week, for the removal of faded blooms; otherwise, if these are allowed to mature seeds, the plants’ display will soon finish. Thorough waterings in dry weather, and occasional soakings with weak liquid fertilizer, will benefit them considerably, as will surface mulches of moist peat or compost.