The cool temperatures of October always lead me to think of planting pansies and violas. How can anyone resist the adorable faces, rich colors, and long bloom period when nothing else is flowering? Certainly not me and I head out to all my favorite garden centers to see what new colors and color combinations they can provide. I plant a lot of violas in my formal garden where they will bloom all fall, much of the winter, and well into June, when the warm weather annuals will take over the job of providing color. I prefer the violas for this job because they seem to survive the constant dips in temperature, freezes, rain, and snow better than the larger flowered pansies. Size and number of flowers per plant are the characteristics that botanically separate pansies from violas but differences in color combinations and texture are important considerations in selection too.

Type: Perennial usually grown as annual.

Bloom: One half to one inch wide flowers in a rainbow of colors cover the small plants when temperatures are above freezing and below 75 degrees.

Size: 4-8” H x 4-8” W.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Soil: Fertile, moist, well drained.

Fertilizer: Fertilize every 2-3 weeks with all purpose fertilizer when temperatures are above freezing.

Hardiness: Zones 7-10; likes cool weather and dies out when day time temperatures average over 75 degrees.

Care: In the South plant in the fall early enough to allow good root development before frost; in the North plant early in spring. . If plants become leggy, shear off the flowers for rebloom.

Pests and Diseases: None of significance.

Propagation: May reseed.

Companion plants: Ornamental kale.

Outstanding Selections: Sorbet series.

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By Karen