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Pansies are usually the first annuals that gardeners in regions with severe winters plant in the spring.

Pansies are usually the first annuals that gardeners in regions with severe winters plant in the spring.

They like cool moist soil, some fertilizer and regular dead heading. Their cheerful colors, and the markings that make the blooms look as if they have faces, are hard to resist. Pansy ring containers and also small bottles are perfect to display pansies indoors.

The pansies we know are all members of the genus “viola” and they are the result of experimentation conducted by an Englishman named Thompson who worked with “Johnny Jump Ups” (Viola tri-color) until he bred larger, flat flowers without a spur. It took him about 30 years, but I’m sure he felt, as we do, that the results were worth is effort. The spur that was eliminated is characteristic of the violet family to which pansies belong.

The flowers are very easy to press, between the pages of a book, and this is an activity, which children enjoy. The pansy flowers are edible, so can be used for garnishes. Shakespeare was familiar with pansies, which have long been associated with thoughts of love.

In a Midsummer Night’s Dream he wrote:

The juice of it, on sleeping eyelids laid
Will make a man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.

Since we know the havoc that occurred when the juice was used in Shakespeare’s play, we should limit ourselves to just planting and picking the pansies.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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