The Pansy is a large group of hybrid plants cultivated as garden flowers. Pansies are derived fromViola species Viola tricolor hybridized with other viola species, these hybrids are referred to asViola × wittrockiana or less commonly Viola tricolor hortensis.
The name "pansy" also appears as part of the common name for other Viola species that are wildflowers in Europe. Some unrelated species, such as the Pansy Monkeyflower, also have "pansy" in their name.
The pansy flower is two to three inches in diameter and has two slightly overlapping upper petals, two side petals, and a single bottom petal with a slight beard emanating from the flower's center. The flower has been produced in a wide range of colors and bicolors. The plant may grow to nine inches in height, and prefers sun to varying degrees and well-draining soils. Pansies arebiennials, but are purchased at garden centers in their second year of growth and treated asannuals by the home gardener. They are subjected to devastation by aphids, snails, and slugs, and several diseases, mostly fungal. They do not perform well in hot, muggy weather or climes.
Pansies are good candidates for seed starting in January. They tolerates mild frost and can be planted outdoors to flower early in northern gardens when the temperatures warm up in late spring. They are also slow growing requiring 12-14 weeks from sowing until flowering.
Southern gardeners, with mild winters and hot summers should start pansies in late summer. Transplant outdoors as soon as the cooler temperatures of fall come around when the pansies will bloom continuously through winter and early spring.
Pansies come in a wide range of colors and patterns. Some flowers have blotches ("faces") and there are even multi color varieties available.
Buy Pansies, pancy seeds here
Grow Pansies, pancy from seeds
Sowing the seeds
Fill the pots or seedling flats with moist, but not wet, soil-less growing media. The seeds are fairly small but still large enough to handle with your fingers. You can also empty the seeds into a bowl and use the tip of a moist wooden toothpick to transfer the seeds.
The seeds should be placed at the surface and not buried. Some references recommend that you cover the seeds, but I have had best results by simply pressing them into the mixture without covering. If you have anyvermiculite you can sprinkle a fine layer (1/8") on top to retain moisture around the seeds.
Freezing or cooling seeds in order to achieve germination is not required.
After sowing, place the seed flat in a pan of tepid water and allow the mixture to wick up moisture from below until the top of the material starts to glisten and turns black. Remove the flat from the water and put aside to drain. A few minutes later you can cover the flats with plastic to retain high humidity. Under normal circumstances it should not be necessary to water the flats again until germination.
This cool season annual germinates at cooler than normal temperatures. 68-70 F (20-21 C) are ideal. Place the flat at room temperature , e.g. consistently 70-75 F. The moist seed starting mixture will always be a little cooler and germination should incur in 10-15 days from sowing. Temperatures above 75 F (24 C) can inhibit germination. Pansy seeds germinate irregularly and will continue to germinate during a relatively long period (up to two weeks).
Even under the best of conditions, the germination percentage for pansy is usually low (50-60%) and it is a good idea to buy more seeds than you need. Sow 2-3 seeds to a cell