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Pansies and Violas

The Martha Stewart Show

Pansies and their cousins violas are among the most popular garden plants, adding color, whimsy, and grace to a bed or border. But they also thrive in containers, allowing you to enjoy a profusion of pansies on the porch or table, where you can better admire their cheerful faces. Here are all of the need-to-know basics about these blooms. 


General Information
- Pansies: under 8 inches tall with 5-petal blossoms (2 to 3 inches wide)
- Violas: smaller (blossoms 1 to 2 inches)
- Readily available and inexpensive
- Many are technically perennials or biennials, but are also usually grown as cool-season annuals and are perfect for planting in both spring and fall.
- Seeds can be sown indoors, but flats of young plants are inexpensive and readily available.
- Inexpensive centerpieces for Easter or Passover

History and Origins
- Pansy originates from French "pensee" (which means "thought")
- Victorians likened the flower to a human face (and as the blooms fade, it nods forward as if deep in thought)
- Modern pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) developed in early 1800s
- By mid-19th century, Europeans created hundreds of hybrids
- Victorian English gave them nicknames, such as Call-me-to-you, Love-true, Tickle-my-fancy, Jump-up-and-kiss-me, Love-in-idleness, Kiss-me-in-the-buttery, and Hearts-ease
- If you receive pansies, it means someone is thinking of you
- Great for pressing and using for crafts

Basket Arrangement
Pop pansies out and untangle roots. Line a basket with moss facing out. Group flowers tightly. Can hang this inside or outside.

Small Pot Centerpiece
Perfect for Easter or Passover centerpieces. Add soil to pots. Place pansies in groups in pots.

Caring for Pansies
Blooms last a month, then transplant to garden. Fertilize once per week with a standard fertilizer. Keep soil slightly damp but not soggy. Transplant them into beds with rich, well-drained soil and steady sun; or mimic those conditions in containers: Cover drainage holes with pot shards, fill pots with a good soilless potting mix, and place in a sunny spot. Water when dry, and feed occasionally. Deadhead regularly, and don't be afraid to pick plenty of blooms for craft and cooking projects -- the more you pick, the more the plantswill produce.

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