For best results, plant pansies in a location sheltered from drying winds. The ideal site gets morning sunshine but is protected from the strong afternoon sun.
Space the plants 15 centimetres apart or the seeds 10 to 15 centi metres apart. They do best in rich, well-draining soil; add manure, leaf mould or compost to increase organic matter. Apply a 5-10-10 granular fertilizer in early spring and late fall for more blooms.
Once established, deeply water pansies during dry spells, once or twice a week (water the soil, not the leaves). Don’t let them dry out or they’ll soon finish flowering and go to seed.
Trim the plants in early summer to keep them from getting straggly, and remove spent flowers regularly to promote continuous bloom.
Slugs and snails can be problematic: pick them off as you see them. Avoid fungal problems with good air circulation and drainage.
Violet or pansy?
Today’s pansies, Viola x wittrockiana, are thought to be descendants of the wild Johnny-jump-up (V. tricolor), a native of central Europe, which was crossed with mountain pansy (V. lutea) in the mid-19th century to produce a cultivated pansy.
Johnny-jump-ups are often confused with pansies. They are smaller in height and bloom, and are hardy to Zone 3. Two varieties that are especially pretty are ‘Bowles’ Black’ and ‘Molly Sanderson’, both of which have black flowers.