Growing Pansies And Violas Outdoors

Growing Pansies And Violas Outdoors

Pansies and violas are closely allied but differ in habit and type of colouring. Violas are in the main more tufted and flowers are either of one colour or else, if of two colours, these are not so clearly defined and strongly contrasted as those of pansies. Both pansies and violas are subdivided into two groups — exhibition and bedding. The former are characterized by the size and quality of the flowers, while the latter are freer flowering and of more compact habit.

Soil and Situation. All delight in a deep, cool, rather rich soil. Dig thoroughly and work in animal manure or compost freely. Peat or leaf-mould can be employed to improve moisture holding qualities of light soil. A partially shaded position, but not beneath large trees, gives the best results, but all are adaptable.

Planting. This is done in April and May. For bedding, plants are set 6-9 in. apart; for exhibition 1 ft. apart. Other details are the same as for herbaceous plants.

Cultural Routine. For bedding, it is only necessary to remove faded flowers and keep down weeds. For exhibition, each plant is restricted to one or two main stems at a time. These are replaced, when old, with young shoots. Selected growths are tied to short stakes, and plants are fed freely during the summer months with weak liquid manure or a general garden fertilizer. Syringe occasionally with a good systtematic insecticide to keep down greenfly.

Propagation. Bedding violas and pansies are usually raised from seed sown in a warm greenhouse in February, in a frame in March, or outdoors in May. Early seedlings will flower the same year, late seedlings the following year. When grown in this way the plants are generally discarded after flowering as many may die from soil-borne diseases in winter and those that survive are apt to get straggly. However, this does not apply to Viola cornuta, V. gracilis and their varieties which will usually survive for years.

Specially selected exhibition varieties are increased by cuttings taken from August to October. A few selected plants are cut back almost to the roots in July or early August and a little sifted potting compost worked around them. Young shoots form freely, and these are severed to the base when about 2 in. in length and inserted 9 in. deep and 2 in. apart in sandy soil in a frame. Once rooted, the frame lights will be required only during frosty weather or heavy rain.

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