If the Junior High bully called you a Pansy, take heart, you could consider it a compliment. Pansies are colorful, entertaining, adaptable, healthy (they’re edible!) and very very tough. Sound like quite desirable characteristics to me. These colorful characters are ubiquitous in winter throughout the South. I took the picture above of pansies and pink tulips at an entrance to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Here in the North they can be planted in the fall and survive under the cover of snow. Pansies or Violas are great to plant in spring too when you’re itching to get out in the garden but the danger of frost hasn’t passed.
Pansies or Violas are basically the same thing. The pansy’s latin name is Viola X Wittrockiana. Today’s Pansies and Violas can thank an old friend in the landscape, Viola Tricolor or better known as “Johnny Jump Ups” as the main parents for their breeding. Today virtually any color from red to black and bi-colors are available due to the work of breeders over the past 10 years.
Do yourself a favor and plant some pansies early this spring. You’ll find pansies with clear faces and “blotched” faces. They’ll reward you with hundreds of colorful blooms and the satisfaction of knowing you were, and still are, much smarter than that bully.