October 2, 2012

Cleveland Landscaping Plant Selection Tips: Fall Pansies and Violas

Pansy resized 600Fall has officially arrived and with it we notice our gardens losing more and more color.  Often times people will plant mums to brighten things up.  Now while I am not knocking mums, they serve their purpose, planting pansies or violas in the fall gives you way more bang for your buck!

What’s the difference between a pansy and a viola?

  • Pansies are actually a viola hybrid
  • Pansies have four petals pointing up and one pointing down, violas have three up and two down
  • Pansy flowers tend to be larger than violas
  • Violas tend to be more tolerant of salt used to melt ice on sidewalks
  • Both come in different colors including blues, yellows, oranges, burgundies, whites, and purples.  Many come multi-color

Viola resized 600Why plant in the fall?

  • If planted in the fall, they can last up to 8 months, providing spring and fall color
  • Planting in the fall allows the plant to become established, the better they’ll be able to withstand the cold
  • Planted in the spring, the plants only last for a few months.  They do not tolerate heat.
  • Most annuals can’t be planted until mid-March.  Planting in the fall gives you non-stop color

How do I know it’s the right time to plant?

  • Soil temperature should be around 65F
  • Contact us to plant them for you!

What happens if planted to early?

  • Planted too early pansies and violas become “leggy”.  They won’t be a nice sturdy plant
  • They will put out new growth if planted while it’s still too warm, and will be more sensitive to cold damage

Should I fertilize?

  • A little fertilizer won’t hurt, but a lot will!  Over-fertilizing will cause the plants to be leggier, which can cause more problems than just aesthetics.
  • Try a fertilizer such as plant-tone.  It’s organic and so breaks down over time feeding the plant gradually

Can I leave them in year-round?

  • You can try!  Pansies and violas are not very heat tolerant.  Warm temperatures inhibit blooming and hot muggy air causes rot and death.
  • Shearing them back will encourage new growth but you must be very patient.  The plants will get very ugly before they get any prettier, if they make it at all. 

Anything else I should know?

  • Pansies and Violas are edible and are often used in salads
  • Planted with tulips or other bulbs creates an even greater impact

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Image Credits:

Pansy Butterfiles photo by Athena's Pix (Busy Again)

Viola Photo by Laure Baley



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