Height 15-23cm (6-9in)
Planting distance 25cm (10in)
Flowers throughout the year
Sunny or partially shaded site
Annual pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) are among the best loved garden plants with their enchantingand diverse colours. Given a lightly shaded position and moist soil, each plant will quickly form a well-spread tuft of colour.
It is quite possible to have pansies in the garden for most of the year. From late spring to early autumn there are the summer-flowering varieties, while winter-flowering ones start to bloom in autumn and, in mild winters, will continue until the spring.
Pansies make enchanting ground cover plants or informal edgings forand other shrubs. They can also be used to provide splashes of colour in spaces among border perennials or to fill containers and window-boxes. The small-flowered varieties look most effective in rock gardens.
Numerous varieties and seed selections are available, in mixtures or as separate colours. Unless stated, they are spring/summer flowering.
‘Arkwright Ruby’ has rich red-brown flowers.
‘Azure Blue’ has flowers in shades of cool blue.
‘Bambini’ has small flowers in pale pink, apricot, yellow, blue, copper, bronze and red, all with whiskered faces.
‘Chalon Giants’ come in deep shades of blue, mahogany-red and yellow with dark blotches. Their petals are waved and frilled.
‘Clear Crystal Mixed’ is a mixture of gold, red, orange, violet and white flowers without any patterns on them.
‘Crimson Queen’ has velvety red flowers with dark blotches.
‘Early Flowering Mixed’ is a winter-flowering selection. The flowers come in shades of red, bronze, yellow and violet-blue; some are plain, others have blotches or whiskered markings.
‘Majestic Giants’ has large red, yellow and blue flowers with dark central blotches.
‘Paper White’ has white flowers with a yellow eye.
‘Queen of Planets’ has very large flowers in rich, bright yellow, violet, red and maroon.
‘Rippling Waters’ has deep purple-blue flowers with a broad cream-white edging.
‘Roggli Giants’ has large velvety flowers in mixed colours: blues, reds, violets, and yellows.
‘Ullswater Blue’ has gentian blue flowers with darker blotches.
‘Universal Mixed’ is a winter and summer-flowering selection in a range of clear and blotched colours (single colours available). Viola tricolor (heartsease or wild pansy) has very small bicoloured flowers in cream, yellow, purple-red or blue-black.
Pansies give of their best when grown as biennials. Sow the seeds in an outdoor nursery bed in mid to late summer and thin to 12cm (4in) apart. Transplant to the flowering site in autumn. The soil should be fertile and moist but well-drained, and the site should be in sun or partial shade. Deadhead regularly.
Pests and diseases
Pansy sickness causes plants to collapse.