PANSY

Amateurs often confuse pansies with violas. The pansy is a species of the genus viola differing from the bedding viola in its larger blooms which have various kinds of markings, the overall effect suggesting a ‘face’. The violas have a more compact habit of growth and usually bloom over a longer period. See VIOLA.

Pansies appreciate a light, rich soil, well drained yet not too dry, and do well in cool but not really shady spots. Note that heavy soils will also produce first-rate pansies, provided drainage is perfect. Even if in bud and flower they suffer very little check from being bedded-out, and may be used massed, in beds and borders of selected types and colours. Do not plant pansies that are drooping, but immerse roots in soft water till they stiffen; then water in well when planting and always water freely in dry spells to get good blossom. Snipping off seed pods ensures a continuance of flowering. To ensure the continuance of a good strain trim long shoots and flowered stems, leaving central young growth to develop and make fresh root. The pansy may readily be raised from seed in open or under a cloche, or in boxes in a cold frame, best months being July and August. These sowings will bloom the following spring and summer. If given ordinary half-hardy annual treatment, I.e. sown in heat from January to March, the plants will flower the same summer. Cuttings taken early in summer and kept under glass in a shady border until well rooted. Transplant in September to bloom early the following year. Take cuttings from the ends of the shoots, snipping them off just below a joint. Propagation is also by root division. Many different strains of pansies are available, all easy to grow and germinating very freely so that a large number of plants can be raised quite cheaply as seed is still inexpensive. Engelmann’s Giant and West-land Giants are examples of strains with extra large blooms in a wide range of colours. The Felix strain is particularly attractive. The large, slightly waved blooms are distinct from all other pansies, and were aptly christened the ‘New Look’ in pansies! They are ‘whiskered’ or pencilled with dark veins, embodying various combinations of bronze, yellow, red, blue and violet. The plants are compact and the blooms are excellent for cutting. Gay Jesters are extra early, comprising self-shades of yellow, apricot, orange, red, violet, blue and white. Named varieties of pansies will usually come over 90% true from seed, although the fancy varieties grown for exhibition are propagated by cuttings. Among the ordinary bedding kinds, the following are especially fine.

Georgia Peach: delicate peach flowers slightly ruffled. Swiss Giant Raspberry Rose: carmine-pink. Coronation Gold: yellow suffused orange. Ullswater: Wedgwood-blue with a darker centre. King of the Blacks: practically coal-black.

Fancy Pansies include:

Adam A. White: chocolate blotches, edged deep yellow and suffused violet. Billie: chocolate blotches edged ruby, the top petals being ruby-crimson. James Garrow: mixture of violet, cream and rosy-purple.

The Winter-flowering Strains come into bloom earlier in the spring than other types and usually flower intermittently in winter during mild spells. Named varieties are also available, including the sky-blue Celestial Queen, the velvety-purple March Beauty and the golden-yellow Winter Sun.

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