Pansies have been a favourite flower of gardeners since Queen Elizabeth I.
I have always admired these plants not only for their infinite variety which makes it easy to create the most wonderful patterns and eye-catching displays, but also because they come in single and combinations of vibrant colours in white, yellow, gold, lemon, blue, orange, red, crimson, purple, violet, pink, lavender and almost black.
Pansies come in many self colours with most having a central blotch of a deep hue.
Often there are three colours which led to the Latin name of one of the parent plants, Viola tricolor, giving rise to common names such as trinity herb, three faces under one hood and numerous other descriptions. These power performers are perfect in cottage gardens, formal plantings, borders, groundcovers, massed or in pots and hanging baskets. The new varieties of pansies come in a range of colours to suit most garden styles.
Orange pansies are beautiful when matched with blue flowers and/or red-foliaged plants. Pansies look stunning as a floral groundcover under spring bulbs where the combinations are limitless. Imagine blue pansies beneath pink or yellow tulips or yellow types under white or red tulips. Mass planted they will cheer up a rose bed especially in winter when bare rose bushes can look a bit dull and depressing. Pansies are perennials but are usually grown as annuals. I have kept pansies growing for four years but with diminishing flower size and display.
One of my favourite varieties is the magnificent Swiss Giants strain for their huge ruffled flowers that bob up and down with the slightest breeze. These perform best planted in early autumn and will flower right through the bleak, cold days of winter. If seedlings are hard to find packaged seeds are available
Pansies need cool, fertile soil to produce at their best. They will grow in dappled shade but to fully reach their flowering potential they need to be planted in a position that provides plenty of sunshine but not the hot afternoon summer sun.
To develop plants capable of giving the best displays they need to have all the flower buds removed until the plants reach about 10cms across, and only then be allowed to flower.
Pansies can be held back for a special display by removing the flower buds for up to six to eight weeks. The final result will be breathtaking.
Mulch to conserve moisture and to encourage the development of a good mat of surface roots necessary for vigorous plants. Apply a liquid fertiliser every two weeks.