Our focus today is on a plant that grows commonly in gardens all around the world. As one of the oldest and most frequently cultivated flowers, it’s origins can not be accurately traced. Many people treat them as an annual and dispose of them after one year. Truth is, they’re short-lived perennials.
Are you developing a hunch yet? Acting as an early sign of spring, the flowers bloom in a multitude of vibrant colors.
I bet you got it now!
Let’s ponder the pansy for a bit.
Commercially, stores sell pansies in packs of 6. They are usually small and young when purchased by consumers and should be planted directly into flower beds or pots. The plant expands in both height and width. When I plant my pansies, I like to leave room between each individual plant, to allow for the expansion. Other people plant all six in a cluster to form one mega pansy. Either way will suffice.
Pansies are short-lived perennials. The reason most people discard them after the first year is because they come back looking leggy or stringy. The plant won’t appear as full and the flowers are not nearly as sturdy. You want your pansies looking short and compact, this will give it the best shot possible to flourish.
The MOST important tip (I can’t stress enough), prune or “deadhead” any dying flowers. This stimulates new growth and vastly increases the lifespan of your pansy. If you leave the dying flowers on, the plant tried to direct its energy to the dead flower, in an attempt to save it. There is no saving the flower though, the end is inevitable. I can’t emphasis this enough, deadhead your pansies!
In the picture below, you see one flower has no petals on it. They have fallen off and only a seed pod remains. Once the pod drys out, it will pop open, revealing chambers containing tiny brown seeds. I like to collect some seeds, others I let drop, or intentionally bury in hopes they arise the following spring. Dry out your collection of seed for a few weeks. Store them in dark, cool areas as heat and light will render the seeds ineffective.
You wan to plant pansy seeds early in spring. The first few weeks, it’s a good idea to keep them indoors or a greenhouse. They are slow to germinate and fragile at a young age. Typically it takes a pansy a few weeks to germinate from seed to plant.
When planting pansies, find an area with well-draining soil and partial sun. If the soil stays wet for prolonged periods, it can cause rot in the roots and stem. This will ultimately destroy the plant. Ideally, you want to water every couple of days. Adding plant food can also help aid healthy growth.
Pansies grow best in cooler temperatures. During hot summer months, pansies will struggle. They weren’t built for the heat. If they make it through a scorching summer, you will probably see they rebound in the cooler fall months, before finally succumbing to wintery elements.
The petals of the flower are edible. Flavors vary depending on the color. The yellow, white and purple shades are most common in culinary works. The petals go great in salads or on cakes, they are highly decorative. Fairly mild tasting, like baby lettuce or other salad greens. Careful with the seeds though, they are known to have a mild toxicity.
The pansy has stood as a symbol of thought. The name comes from a French word meaning “to think”. If you look at the flower petals, some say they resemble a face, deep in thought. It is associated with free-thinking or thoughtfulness. With pansies coming in just about every color, symbolism often varies based on that color.
As is custom, we can end with a couple fun facts.
Pansies can withstand a cold frost, but anything more than a frost will most likely eliminate the plant.
Rabbits love to eat pansies. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve settled down from the day, with a bunch of new buds ready to open. Only to find them all chewed off by sunrise. The culprit is almost always those cute, pesky bunnies!
Pansies have a distinct aroma. It’s not easy to identify the smell as it can be subtle. Once you catch the whiff, it’s an unforgettable scent.
The pansy color schemes are simply sizzling. They make for an excellent addition to every garden!