Learning Center

Pansy versus Viola… what’s the difference anyway?

Majestic Giant Blotch Mix Pansy

What is a pansy?

Pansies are the most commonly planted fall and winter annual in our area and for very good reason!  Pansies bloom from fall into next spring, all the way through time to plant warm season annuals.  They offer a large variety of color choices and many have huge blooms!  Deadheading will help promote further blooming but isn’t completely necessary.  You will need to feed them though; we suggest using Ferti-Lome Premium Bedding Plant Food at planting as well as Good Earth brand Jump Start to promote rooting.  Additional feedings with water soluble BR-61 (which is like steroids for flowers!) is also recommended.  This can be done during warm spells for best utilization by the plants. For more information on planting, including soil prep, visit this blog post.

As mentioned above, pansies offer a wide variety of color choices, blotch pansies, which are also referred to as ‘with face’ are pansies that feature a dark area near the middle of the plant. The blotch color varies depending on variety and may be a darker tone of the same color, or as on light colored pansies, it can be a dark maroon or brown color as shown in the first image.  Blotch or no blotch, which to go with?  It’s all a matter of personal choice, both are beautiful!  Keep in mind that all these varieties we mentioned move fast, and there is a different selection each week.  Don’t wait to plant or you could miss out on your favorite colors!

Here are some beautiful color choices:

Matrix Denim Pansy

Majestic Giant Sherry with Blotch Pansy

Majestic Giant Clear Yellow Pansy

Delta Lavender Blue Shades Pansy

Pansies typically have large blooms, which are very showy!  However, sometimes the large blooms get weighed down with rain and winter weather and depending on how long they are wet, they don’t stand back up.  Violas on the other hand have much smaller blooms, which allows the water to go around the bloom, and the flowers stay upright.  Violas are also known for more heat and cold tolerance, which can mean a better spring display.  Although there are less color options in violas, there are some stunning ones out there.  Here are some viola examples:

Tangerine Viola

Penny All Seasons Mix Viola

Lavender Pink Face Viola

Neon Purple Wing Viola

One more great option to mention is Panola!  Panolas have the best of both worlds, durability of the viola and the larger bloom size of a pansy. Plus there are more color options available in panola than there are with violas. Here is a new one for us this year:

Pink Shades Panola

Let’s talk about the Nature series of pansies; wow, are they cool!  They are new for us this year, and seem to be more compact than a viola, with blooms standing up taller.  The bloom size is closer to a viola than the bloom size of panolas but the color choices are lovely!  Take a look at these:

Rose with Blotch Nature Series Pansy

We can’t finish this conversation without mentioning one of our favorites; the Cool Wave and other trailing pansies such as FreeFall and WonderFall pansies.  The bloom size is smaller but the trailing/ spreading growth habit of these plants makes it perfect for pots.  Our staff knows from personal experience how awesome these are; we are talking gorgeous color, trailing out of containers with a length as long as eighteen inches!  These also create mounds of color in landscape beds; the spreading habit means you can plant them much further apart.  There are a wide variety of colors available in these too!

Cool Wave Pansy

Don’t forget to add accents such as Dusty Miller and ornamental cabbage and kale.  AND another of our favorites, ornamental mustard.  The dark purple foliage contrasts with the light green mid-rib of the leaves and the large leaf size makes a dramatic addition to pots and seasonal color displays in landscapes!  We have attached an image of Cirrus Dusty Miller; this variety has broader leaves and stays more compact than some of the traditional varieties!

Cirrus Dusty Miller

Ornamental Mustard

And here is the last tip from us (for this post anyway!).  Use quality potting soil in pots and prepare the planting area in landscape beds.  You can get the best plant, plant them correctly and in the best spot, fertilize, water and mulch them, and STILL not have a great looking if the proper soil isn’t chosen or the bed areas haven’t been prepped.  Take a minute to read the blog post referenced in the first paragraph and pick up some Good Earth brand Professional Growing Mix.  It’s what we use for a reason… it’s the best!  We look forward to seeing you this fall!  Keep in mind that all these varieties we mentioned move fast, and there is a different selection each week.  Don’t wait to plant or you could miss out on your favorite colors!