You know spring has arrived when pansies and violas begin to pop up in containers and garden beds. These little flowers are not only beautiful pops of color after the long winter, but they are hardy enough to withstand the cold nights that occur during the spring…like the one we had last night.
Many people have trouble telling the difference between pansies and violas. Their foliage and flowers are similar in shape, but the main difference is in the flower size. Violas have a smaller flower and tend to bloom a little bit earlier than pansies. Pansies have a much larger flower head.
Both pansies and violas want sun to part sun in order to grow their best. They don’t do well with the hot summer sun. To get the longest life out of them, plant them in an area that is in full sun before the trees leaf out, and dappled sun after they are leafed out.
As I said earlier, pansies and violas can handle cool nights. No need to cover these plants, even if the temperatures drop into the twenties. The morning after a cold night, they may look a little limp. They will pop back up to life once the temperatures warm up again the next day. If it is really cold, the flowers may be damaged, but the plants themselves will be okay.
Pansies and violas are versatile in where you can plant them, too. They are great to pair with other spring annuals in containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. They also do well planted in beds and mass plantings. Just be sure to give them about 6 inches when planting, so they have plenty of room to grow.
Once planted, pansies and violas need to be kept watered. The soil should never dry out or the plants will stop flowering. Be sure to water at the base of the plants, as watering above them can cause spots on the leaves and blooms. To encourage blooming to continue, deadhead the plants when you see spent blooms.
Pansies and violas are great spring flowers, blooming early and throughout the season. They can withstand the cold nights, be planted anywhere, and they come in a variety of colors. From the clear blue that so many people love, to Johnny Jump Ups that are purple and yellow, the blotched faces of pansies and violas are always a welcome sight in spring.