Prepared by Karen Russ, HGIC Horticulture Specialist, and Bob Polomski, Extension Consumer Horticulturist, Clemson University. (New 03/99. Images added 8/08.)
Pansies — and related Johnny-jump-ups — are charming, small, cool-weather flowers. They come in many colors, with a variety of markings and flower sizes.
Viola x wittrockiana ‘Dynamite Blueberry Thrill’ has a compact growth habit and superior flowering from fall to spring.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2015 HGIC, Clemson Extension
A pansy with decorative markings, “whiskers” and ruffles.
Pansies are compact, not more than 12 inches in both height and spread.
Pansies and Johnny-jump-ups are grown as cool-season annuals. They often self-sow.
Common problems of pansies include black root rot and some fungal leaf spots. Avoid overhead watering, which keeps leaves wet, and over-watering. Aphids, spider mites and slugs are pests of pansies. For more information consult HGIC 2105, Pansy Diseases & Insect Pests.
Pansy flowers can be single, clear colors with no markings. The most common types of pansies have a dark center called a face. Johnny-jump-up flowers look like small pansy flowers, often with slender black lines called whiskers radiating from the center.
Pansies have an extremely wide color range including red, purple, blue, bronze, pink, black, yellow, white, lavender, mahogany, apricot and orange. Some pansies have a sweet scent. They are most fragrant at early morning and dusk.
The dark center on some pansies is called a “face.”
Karen Russ, ©2008 HGIC, Clemson Extension
Pansies are used for color massing, edging, containers and window boxes during the fall, winter and spring. Pansies thrive in cool weather. They will bloom any time that the temperature is above freezing. Their peak bloom is in spring. They fade and should be discarded with the start of hot summer weather.
Pansies grow best in a location that receives morning sun and has rich, well-draining organic soil. Add manure, leaf mold or compost to soil to increase organic content.
Sow seed indoors in late summer, six to eight weeks before transplanting. The pansies can be transplanted into the garden once the summer heat has been broken and cooler weather arrives.
If you purchase plants, choose ones that are stocky with dark green foliage and have few blooms but many buds.
Plant pansies and Johnny-jump-ups 6 to 8 inches apart for small-flowered cultivars and 10 to 12 inches apart for large-flowered. Water well after planting and continue to water through the fall and winter any time that less than an inch of rain falls during the week.
In the spring, there should be enough rain to provide adequate moisture for pansies (about an inch of water once a week). Never water pansies in the late afternoon or evening since this encourages disease.
Mix a granular slow-release fertilizer into the soil as you are planting the pansies. Apply a 5-10-10 granular fertilizer in late fall and again in early spring. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers that can make the plants susceptible to rot.
Mulch around the pansies with 2 inches of organic material to conserve moisture and reduce weed growth. Remove old flowers for longest bloom. Pansies will decline with hot weather and can be replaced with summer-flowering annuals.
Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana): There are more than 250 cultivars of pansies. Most of the cultivars are part of a series. A series consists of several cultivars that vary in color but share qualities such as hardiness, form, markings and so on.
Johnny-Jump-Ups (Viola cornuta, Viola tricolor): Johnny-jump-ups have much smaller flowers than pansies. They flower heavily and are more heat-resistant than pansies. Johnny-jump-ups are ideal for planting around bulbs and larger flowers.
‘Sorbet Antique Shades’ Johnny-Jump-Up
Joey Williamson, ©2008 HGIC, Clemson Extension
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