Scientific: Viola x wittrockiana
Common: pansy
Family: Violaceae
Origin: A hybrid derived originally from Viola tricolor of Central Europe. Classified as V. wittrockiana in 1870's. The common name 'pansy' comes from the word 'penser' meaning to think - now figure that one out because this plant is really easy to grow.....especially during the winter in Phoenix.

Pronounciation: Vi-O-la witt-rock-i-A-na

Hardiness zones
All (in Phoenix used exclusively as a cool season annual)

Landscape Use: Winter cool season bedding plant, borders, containers, front entries, hanging baskets, floral accent.

Form & Character: Evergreen herbaceous short-lived perennial that in Phoenix is grown strictly as a cool season annual, formal, gay, bright, festive, petite, cheery.

Growth Habit: Short, basally clumping to 6 inches in height with similar spread.

Foliage/texture: Medium dark green, scalloped to crenate margins in basal clumps; medium texture.

Flowers & fruits: Single to multiple colored open-faced flowers. Nearly every color imaginable including a new all-white flower selection. F1 and F2 hybrids produce largest flowers that are 2 to 3 inches in diameter.

Seasonal color: Pansy is outstanding as a winter bedding plant for floral accent color in Phoenix.

Temperature: Ideal growing condition are from 40 to 65oF, though incredibly cold hardy to -10oF with no frozen ground. Above 90oF panies will fail.

Light: Full winter early spring sun for best flowering. Partial shade prolongs plant viability into late spring, but reduces flower numbers.

Soil: A well-drained garden soil with copious amounts of organic matter is best for peak flower performance. Pansies are highly salt sensitive.

Watering: Frequent and regular to keep soil evenly moist.

Pruning: None

Propagation: Seed, although for landscape use purchase young plants in small containers, often called nursery "six packs".

Disease and pests: Pansy diseases have been well documented. Several fungal root rots such as black root rot and pythium and phytophthora root rots can be real problems if garden soils have poor drainage and are chronicaly wet. Soil fungi are often introduced to garden soil from nursery six pack substrates, eradication can be difficult.

Also, brown snails in California ingest pansy like I ingest Culver's frozen chocolate custard.

Additional comments: Pansy is a fabulous winter annual for the Phoenix area that is cultivated from mid October through the end of the following April. For best appearance use nursery transplants in groupings at spacings of 8 to 12 inches apart. Phoenix fall weather can be variable so be sure to not transplant into the landscape before fall temperatures are consistently below 85oF!

The first recorded use of pansy as garden flower was in 1629. Across the United States, pansy is one of most popular bedding plant species accounting for an estimated 3.5% to 4% of all ornamental plants sales. Viola cornuta (Johnny jump up) is a very close relative to pansy that is native to European mountainous regions from the Pyrenees in Spain and Andorra east to the Balkan and Rila mountains in Bulgaria.