HOW TO GROW AND SAVE THE SEED OF PANSIES

Latin name Viola x wittrockiana is a cold-hardy annual that is an ancient cross of the wild violet and the wild pansy. These small, delicate blooms are surprisingly rugged. While pansies are one of the cold-hardiest flowers, they do suffer in the heat of summer.

 

HISTORY

Pansies as we know them today are descended from the wild viola, native to Europe, and the wild pansy, which is believed to have grown wild in France. In the 1800s, gardener William Thompson crossed the two to make viola x wittrockiana, or pansy.

 

USES

  • Edible flower.
  • Ornamental.
  • Beds, borders, containers, window boxes, small pots, mass plantings, landscaping, edible flower gardens, cottage garden, kitchen garden. Flowerheads are edible and versatile in baking, cooking and confections.

 

SEED STARTING

  • Seeds germinate in 14-21 days.
  • When starting indoors, sow seeds 10-12 weeks before last frost.
  • You may place the tray outside in the cold or in your fridge to mimic winter, then pull out and place in a warm, sunny location. Alternatively, you can direct sow outdoors in place in fall or early spring.
  • Surface sow seeds and very lightly cover, as light aids germination.
  • Ideal germination temperature is 65-70 F (after stratification).

 

GROWING

  • Plants prefer full sun to shade; the hotter the location, the more shade is necessary.
  • Requires rich, well-drained, moist soil. Deadhead to prolong blooming.
  • When summer finally kills off plants, pull them out and compost.

 

PESTS/SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS

  • Aphids, mealybugs and spider mites can be a problem. Keep these pests at bay with organic insecticidal soap.

 

SEED SAVING

  • Pansy will often self sow in the garden.
  • Pick seed pods from dried flowerheads and place them in a paper bag, as the seeds will explosively spread themselves across the room if not contained.
  • Save in a cool, dark, dry place and sow before frost or indoors with stratification.