ISSUE 13  |  Rite of Spring

Pansies: A Cheap Date

March 27, 2012 9:30 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

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A pansy can go from seed to flower in nine weeks, which tells you something about its eagerness to please.

Viola × wittrockiana is not a complainer. Every spring, we notice cheery clumps of pansies that have shown the initiative to sow themselves in the unlikeliest spots: in sidewalk cracks, alongside curbs, or tucked into the edge of flower beds otherwise reserved for something grander. Here are a few of our favorite sightings.

Above: A bunch of johnny jump-ups is perfectly content to fill a hole in a wall of graffiti. Image via The Pothole Gardener.

Above: Pansies are one of the few flowers that seem equally happy to be described as perennials, annuals, and biennials. It wouldn't surprise anyone to see a new clump pop up, next spring, in a crack on the stairs. Image via The Pothole Gardener.

Above: Pansies beautifying a patio crack in Salt Lake City. Image via Blurbomat.

Above: Volunteers grow in a tree stump. Image via Pinecones and Roses.


Above: There are at least 500 varieties of pansy hybrids, many of which descend from the yellow Viola lutea (shown above). Image via the Wildflower Society.

Above: The other parent of many modern varieties is Viola altaica (shown above). For pansies like those grown in the 19th century, try the Historic Pansies Mix, $2.75 for a packet of 50 seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. Image via The Rainforest Fund Project.