Pansy - Viola tricolor


Pansy is a very pretty little herbaceous plant. Its scientific name is Viola tricolor; it belongs to the Viola genus, which includes about 400 species, and to the Violaceae family. It is native to Europe and America; in Italy it is well known and appreciated and is cultivated for ornamental purposes; we can find it in gardens where it is used to create flower beds and borders, or even on terraces and balconies, placed in pots. There pansy it can reach a height of 10-20 cm; has pedunculated leaves that can be lanceolate or rounded; the flowers are carried by erect petioles, have petals facing upwards and can be of different colors depending on the variety: yellow, purple, blue or more colors.

Environment and exposure

The pansies they should be placed in a sunny place, possibly in direct sunlight; if they are placed in a shady place, there will be a greater development of the leaves and a scarcity of flowers. They are not afraid of the heat and tolerate even very low temperatures well, so they can be kept in the garden all year round. It is preferable to keep them sheltered from the wind, which could damage them.

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For optimal growth of the pansy it is advisable to use a soft, light, fertile and well drained soil; it is preferable to mix peat and sand with the earth, which will favor the drainage of the water.

HeightUp to 30 cm
PoiseUpright or ground cover
RusticityMedium to high
ExposureFull sun (North), partial shade (South)
SoilRich, but also poor. Fresh but well drained
UsageFlower beds, borders, rock garden, vase, compositions
DensityFrom 9 to 15 plants per m2
SoilFrom October to May

Planting and repotting

Planting must be carried out from the end of autumn to the beginning of spring. The plant must be removed from its container and cleaned of excess earth, taking care not to damage the roots; a hole is dug that has a depth equal to twice the length of the roots and the plant is placed there; then it is covered with earth, the soil is compacted and watered abundantly. Repotting should be done at the beginning of spring; a slightly larger pot than the previous one should be used; it is advisable to use terracotta containers that allow the passage of air.


The pansies they do not need excessive watering; irrigation should be adjusted according to the temperature; in spring and summer they should be watered, possibly with water at room temperature, two or three times a week; in autumn and winter watering must be reduced. Water stagnation must be avoided, so it is necessary that the soil is dry between one irrigation and another.


In spring or early summer it can be fertilized the pansy with a slow release granular fertilizer, which must be mixed with the soil; for better blooms, it is useful to give the plant liquid fertilizer for flowering plants, which must be added to the watering water and administered every 20-30 days.


The reproduction of pansies occurs by seed. Sowing should be done at the end of the summer. The seeds should be placed in a container with fertile and soft soil; after a short time the seeds will begin to germinate and the seedlings will sprout; when the plants are large enough they can be placed in single pots; the new plants will be planted around October, in those areas where the climate is mild, or in spring if the temperature is colder.


Pansies don't need major pruning. It is necessary to eliminate the dried leaves and flowers and the damaged parts; this operation must be done with very sharp scissors, so as not to damage the plant, and above all clean, to avoid infections. If the dry parts are cut, the flowering will be prolonged.


The pansy begins to bloom in early spring and flowering continues until summer. The flowers can be of different colors depending on the variety, yellow, purple, blue or multicolored. They are very decorative and are used to give color to gardens, or to embellish terraces and balconies.

Diseases and parasites

Excessive humidity can favor the development of fungal diseases; the remedy consists in using fungicidal products; to prevent these diseases it is advisable not to exceed in watering. Pansy can also be attacked by aphids and scale insects; in this case it is necessary to intervene by washing the plant and using a specific insecticide. It is best to treat the plant when there are no blooms.


Before buying the pansy it is advisable to observe it carefully, to verify the absence of diseases and parasites; it is also advisable to check if the plant has been sufficiently watered, checking if the soil in the pot is damp; otherwise it means that watering has been scarce. Better to avoid buying plants that have dry or damaged parts. The luxuriant and abundant flowering ones are preferred.


About 400 species belong to the Viola genus; in addition to Viola tricolor or Pansy, other known species are: Viola cornuta, with purple flowers; Viola odorata, better known as Viola mammola, which has very fragrant dark purple flowers; the Viola calcarata, which has yellow or lilac flowers.


Pansy has purifying, diuretic and laxative properties, used as a decoction; it is also used in the treatment of skin diseases. It is also used in perfumery for the creation of perfumes. Violets are also popular in the food industry; the “bonbons à la violette” are a typical confectionery product of the city of Toulouse, in France.

Use in open ground

Pansies are ideal for brightening up the garden from autumn to spring. The extreme rusticity allows them to bloom even with temperatures just above zero. With more intense cold they will stop growing and enter vegetative rest, but they will be ready to leave as soon as there is a hint of good weather.

This is why they are widely used in flower beds, more or less formal, in the city center or in private gardens. We can create large areas by choosing them in various tone-on-tone shades or creating beautiful contrast effects.

The lowest will be useful until mid-spring, carrying out the task of beautiful ground cover. It is an excellent choice to place them in the area where the bulbous plants (daffodils, hyacinths, tulips) will sprout. They are rarely an obstacle and their colors and scents marry very well. They will show themselves even more precious when the bulbous ones begin to wilt: that area will keep a nice and well-groomed appearance.

Given their long flowering season, they can be used as "stopgaps" in herbaceous and mixed borders. They also find their place in the rock garden, together with other small-sized essences.

Use in pots

Pansies are among the most popular plants for use in containers. They can be grown in bowls or placed in balconies which during the summer will be occupied by geraniums or petunias.

The important thing is to always equip them with a rather deep substrate rich in well-decomposed organic matter, neutral or slightly alkaline. Add a few handfuls of manure to the common soil for flowering plants and, from the moment of potting, granular fertilizer with a high potassium content. For glorious blooms, however, it will almost always be necessary to supplement with liquid fertilizer, diluting it in minimal but constant doses in the irrigation water. Also, make sure that the nitrogen is not excessive: it induces vigorous vegetative growth to the detriment of the production of buds.

Given the predisposition of violets to the development of root rot and powdery mildew, it is extremely important to prepare a thick draining layer and avoid the use of saucers.

Protection from intense cold

We have said that violets do not fear the cold. In case of severe frosts (below -12 ° C) it may however happen that the earth of the pots, especially the smaller ones, freezes completely, leading to the death of the specimens' feet. In these cases it is good to move them in time to a sunny location, possibly facing south, and near a wall: it will be of enormous help in protecting them from the wind, their fearsome enemy.

It can also be useful to insulate the pot with special material (for example several layers of newspaper). An ancient, but still excellent technique remains that of filling a bin with sand by inserting our small containers inside.

Seed collection

In order not to affect the productivity of the seedlings, it is good to let them go to seed only from the month of April. The ovary of the flower will evolve by swelling, and then open into three parts. At that point we will wait for everything to be completely dry, we will cut the stalk and shake it inside a bag. The tea filters, previously emptied, are ideal for storage.


Sowing is certainly the simplest method, but let's remember that (especially if we had seedlings of different colors) it rarely guarantees us to maintain the peculiar qualities (colors, sizes).

The best time for sowing is August: after germination the violets will have plenty of time to grow and harden before the first colds arrive.

In all cases, the seeds should never be covered by more than 4mm of fine soil (even if the ideal is to use agricultural vermiculite). For some species, germination is fast (it takes a maximum of 2 weeks), for others (which require winter stratification), on the contrary, it is necessary to wait several months (even until spring). The best results are obtained by keeping the jars in the dark during this period.


A rather simple method that allows to maintain the characteristics of the cultivar is the cutting.

It is prepared using full stems, in the months from June to August (to have seedlings ready in autumn) or from August to September (for planting in spring). Many times you can find side portions already partially rooted ready for use. Otherwise, it is advisable to insert the stems in a very light compost, of peat and agri-perlite (or sand) in equal proportions, keeping them in the shade and well moist.

Violets use in the kitchen

The great interest in cooking has led in recent years to the culinary rediscovery of edible flowers. They are interesting both for garnishing dishes and, as for pansies, to give a particular taste to dishes.

They are in fact endowed with a bitter taste with mint tones, which goes well with spring salads and some delicate cheeses.

They can be combined with other edible flower heads such as nasturtium, borage or chive flower, calendula, chamomile.

Always remember to use only those grown without the use of pesticides or buy them in the fruit and vegetable departments.

Viola Tricolor

The Viola Tricolor belongs to the Violacee family which is made up of others 16 different genres.

In addition, you can buy two different Tricolor species: the viola Tricolor Vulgaris with classic purple flowers or viola Tricolor Arvensis which has a much smaller and white flower.

Generally the Tricolor viola, belonging to the hybrid category, can reach 40 centimeters in height with flowers that can reach up to one and a half centimeters.

Violets, thanks to their ability to grow spontaneously in the woods, can often be seen even in metropolises as a natural border of sidewalks and roads.

Therefore, depending on your needs, you can choose the most suitable species for shape and size.

I only think it is better to prefer the small flower for borders and fences while for color spots it is better to go towards the larger species.
Another important aspect of the viola, in addition to its renowned beauty, is its own resistance in fact, tolerates frost and it does not fear temperatures below freezing, even if this condition remains constant for prolonged periods.

After mentioning its strengths and main characteristics, let's see the planting and the care it needs.

Cultivation of Violets

Like every time you decide to grow or plant a plant, what you need to consider is the soil. So the first thing to know how prepare the ground that will have to welcome the viola.

To ensure the viola a balanced growth is necessary soften the soil: if you are growing in the garden, the soil must be hoed in order to make it soft and fresh if the chosen place is the pot, it is important to work the soil p with a small gardening hoe or with your hands.

After you have softened the soil you must fertilize properly in order to guarantee constant and balanced nutrition throughout the winter period.

The most suitable fertilizer is a granular type with slow release in the way.

At this point the plants can be buried by covering the roots well and placing them one from the other, with a distance of about 10 centimeters.

The plant viewed differently

Pansies are reputed to grow and thrive on silica-rich soils. Silicic acid has a close relationship with the skin and acts as a model for skin processes, such as the process of rest, of calming the skin, but also that of the formation, in the upper skin layer, of a well-defined separation boundary. delineated by the mobile processes of the connective tissue. Especially the connective tissue contains traces of natural silicic acid, and it is also for this reason that the pansy has a direct link with the skin processes.

Climate, soil and diseases of pansies

The pansy is one of the most common among the flowering plants that adorn balconies and gardens of any Italian area and is quite resistant, but it is logical that its exposure to the sun it must vary according to the climate of the various regions.

L'habitat ideal is cool and temperate (around 17-18 °), even if the violets withstand winter and short frosts up to -5 °, while they suffer a lot from the summer heat: they should therefore be located in full sun if the area is cold, but it is better to place them in half shade if it is subjected to hot temperatures and sunny summers.

At the end of spring and at the beginning of summer (May-June), pansies (and all violet in general) are often attacked by aphids, mites is agrizomes to be prevented and combated with repeated applications of specific products, the so-called translaminar insecticides (if you do not want to use them, you can use a natural and biodegradable pesticide).

In the presence of great heat accompanied by high humidity it is easy for several to appear fungal diseases which must be treated with copper-based fungicides.

Peronospora violae, powdery mildew and various spots on the leaves are contrasted with pesticides containing the active ingredients Manconzeb, Propamocarb or Acylanine or with specific products based on copper or sulfur.

A good remedy is a lime and copper sulphate compound, the Bordeaux mixture (you can find it ready on the web, in agricultural centers or in powder form in specialized shops) to be sprayed on the leaves, eliminating the diseased ones, at intervals of 15 days.

If you do not want to use aggressive chemicals, space the plants apart, avoid leaving the foliage at the base wet, do preventive treatments based on copper and sprinkle the soil occasionally with nettle macerate.

If subjected to too many watering, violets can be affected by a fungus that causes rot of the collar and of the root part: in this case the various remedies are ineffective and the attacked plants must be eliminated and burned as soon as possible to avoid contagion of the healthy ones.

Video: All about pansies Viola tricolor var. hortensis

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