Potted pansies

2015-06-10 06:02


Pansies are the larger flower, having four petals pointing upwards and just one pointing down.

Pansies are the larger flower, having four petals pointing upwards and just one pointing down.

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THEIR names pansy and viola are interchangeable, although distinctions can be made by the plant’s size and petal formation. Pansies are the larger flower, having four petals pointing upwards and just one pointing down, sometimes referred to as the beard, whereas the viola has three reaching skyward and two down.

The flower of a pansy is markedly larger than that of the viola, although what the viola lacks in size it certainly makes up for in number, providing many more blooms.

The name pansy, derived from the French word pensée­, meaning “thought” is said to have “sad faces” more so at the end of the cycle­ when the flower begins to nod.

Our pansies being seen physically to be “pensive” strengthens the bond, even more, to their French name.

The fact that viola means “modesty” in the flower kingdom is not really something one would attribute to them, apart from their size. They are anything but modest in their display, with a floriferous nature that has a spectacular colour range.

For best results plant your seedlings 20cm apart as the climate begins to cool.

Pansies do not enjoy warm soil so be sure to mulch well to offset any spikes in temperature you may encounter through autumn. Both plants will do well in sunny conditions or partial shade. Violas enjoy the shade more than their cousins so when bedding, act accordingly. Water well weekly being careful not to wet their leaves, but rather the soil around them.

One of the advantages of having the season to yourself is that pansies won’t have to compete with many other flowers for the attention of the few pollinating insects still in the neighbourhood.

Unfortunately, this applies to the not-so-welcome kids on the block. Aphids that try to dine out on your pansies can be sorted out by using an insecticide that your garden centre can suggest for you.

Slugs and snails can easily be deterred by applying sand or loose bark to the mulch we’re using to keep our little friends feet cool.

- The Bedding Plant Growers Association. For more information go to www.lifeisagarden.co.za

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