Pansy varieties are short-lived perennial hybrids, or however cultivated as annuals or biennials; the mother species generally come from Europe and Turkey, the most used by breeders are: V. lutea, V. tricolor, V. odorata, V. cornuta, V. x wittrockiana.
The pansies have very large flowers and bright colors, from white to pure black, without perfume, with five petals, with a dark center or yellow, in contrast with the rest of the flower. Some varieties have dark veins that give the flower the appearance of a face; every year new varieties are added to the numerous already existing ones. The leaves are dark green, ovate, not very decorative; flowering occurs in the fresh periods of the year, in autumn and winter and at the beginning of spring.
The genus Viola includes about 500 species spread throughout the temperate northern hemisphere, but also in the mountains of Latin America and tropical and subtropical Africa. They grow preferably in shady locations, in the woods, meadows, screes or marshes. They are small plants essential for the garden, both for their flowers and for the leaves, which, thanks to various colors and shapes, make them interesting throughout the year.
They have been known and appreciated since ancient times and in the Middle Ages were used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes.
As we have said, these are generally deciduous annuals and perennials and, especially in our climates, evergreens. They can be herbaceous or have a woody base
Although the groups are innumerable, the plants are always very recognizable thanks to the unmistakable shape of their flowers. These sprout from fibrous or fleshy roots ... The floral stem carries two small bracts and is curved at the top. The curvature is partly hidden by the appendages of the 5 sepals, usually shorter than the 5 petals. The lower petal protrudes backwards forming a spur containing the nectars.
In the summer a good part of these herbaceous plants also produces self-fertile flowers without petals that produce a large number of seeds. This type of inflorescence is called cleistogama, which means "closed".
The leaves of the violets are heart-shaped, while of the pansy are oval.
All groupings are widespread in nature throughout the world, but in England and France since the nineteenth century there has been great interest in the creation of a large number of hybrids, highly appreciated for the most varied uses.
We also remember that some species in particular (such as the violet of Parma or the violet violets) were and are highly sought after by the perfume industry and are also grown on a large scale for this purpose.
|Family and gender|
Violaceae, gen. Viola, about 500 species and countless cultivars and hybrids
|Type of plant||Annual, biennial and mainly evergreen herbaceous perennials|
|Exposure||Half shade, shade, sun, depending on the variety|
|Ground||Rich, sub-alkaline, rich, well-drained|
|Irrigation||Frequent, without stagnation|
|Flowering||Depending on the species. Generally autumn-spring, but some even in summer|
|Composting||For weekly pansy, with a prevalence of potassium|
|colors||Purple, lilac, white, yellow, blue, red, orange, bicolor|
Exhibition of violets
The choice of exposure to the viola hybrida depends on the period in which you prefer to plant them and then enjoy the splendid flowering. If you decide to plant them in autumn, and then make them bloom in autumn and the following spring, it is good to place them in an area in full sun, to allow the plants to receive all the hours of sunshine possible on cold winter days. If instead you prefer to plant them in spring it is advisable to place them in partial shade, otherwise in the summer months they would be easily burned and dried by the sun's rays on the hottest days. We do not recommend burying them in an area in complete shade, as too little insolation causes poor flowering. If you want you can put them in containers, so you can put them in the sun in the spring and move in the shade in the summer. They do not fear the cold, it is therefore possible to put them in the house even when there is a threat of frost, in fact usually the low temperatures favor the germination of seeds and abundant blooms.
For the undergrowth violets or ground cover the ideal exposure is the partial shade, but they manage to live well even in the shade. They also show a certain tolerance to the full sun, as long as they grow in a cool environment, mostly in northern Italy or in mountainous or piedmont areas.
Pansy and other garden violets want well-lit displays, particularly from autumn to spring. Only in these conditions can they flourish continuously. When summer comes, it is good to move them to a more sheltered position.
The specimens of viola hybrida need abundant water, the soil must always be moist, but not soaked with water; it is therefore preferable to water them often, leaving the substratum to dry slightly before watering again. To encourage flowering it is advisable to fertilize regularly with fertilizer for flowering plants, at least every 20-30 days. In full earth, if well positioned, it is normally not necessary to intervene until late spring.
The most delicate in this respect are undoubtedly le pansй. In pots they need quite frequent watering. Always make sure that the substratum is hydrated by inserting a finger into it in depth and proceeding only when it is rather dry.
The seedlings of viola hybrida have no particular needs regarding the growth substrate, if the soil of our garden was too heavy and calcareous it is however appropriate to correct it with peat, sand and universal balanced soil, so as to obtain a substrate fairly rich in organic and well-drained material.
Most of them grow well in a fertile soil, from neutral to sub-alkaline, possibly quite fresh.
For the cultivation of the viola hybrida in pots, all the substrates designed for flowering plants are usually suitable. If we want to deal with this aspect personally we can get a good compote by combining a third of forest soil, a third of very mature flour manure and a third of sand. In this way we will ensure a good supply of nutrients and avoid the risk of root rot. In the container it is always important to prepare on the bottom an excellent draining layer based on gravel or expanded clay.
It can occur by cuttings or by seed. The cuttings are practiced in spring, by rooting the stems in a mixture of peat and sand that must be kept in a cool and damp place until it is fully rooted. Usually the pansies are cultivated by seed, as each seedling produces many and is therefore easy to find (provided that very particular varieties are not desired);
for sowing, prepare a container with balanced soil, peat and sand, well mixed, moisten the substrate and then spread the seeds, which should be covered with a light layer of sand, necessary to maintain humidity.
The seedbeds of violets must be covered with transparent plastic and kept in a cold and dark place, these two conditions favor germination. If desired they can be sown in the open ground, in a shady place, but in this case germination is not always guaranteed. The plants are planted when they have produced at least two pairs of leaves, in spring or autumn, even in late season.
There are many possibilities for propagation: stem cuttings, root cuttings, division, seed. However, they are not always suitable for the specific typology and, in particular, it is very difficult to maintain a hybrid with gamica multiplication; on the contrary it can be a good method for the species: the seeds can be buried at any time of the year, but it is preferable to do so in the middle of summer, so that the new specimens are almost adults when they have to face the winter. The seeds must never be covered with more than 4 mm of soil. Germination takes place in a period ranging from 2 weeks (for le pansй) up to several months (almost all violets). Dark favors this process.
Once they are checked, they should be moved as soon as possible in a bright environment.
If instead we want to proceed with the cutting or division the best time is spring. Very often natural cuttings have already been produced and it will not be difficult to separate them from the mother plant.
Violet violets reproduce very easily by dividing the stolons.
We pay a lot of attention from this point of view: in fact they can in the long run become invasive by covering spaces dedicated to other essences. Clearly this may be more or less welcome. If it were not, let us commit ourselves immediately to keeping them under control.
CLASSIFICATION OF GARDEN VIOLETS
|Violet||Violets violets, that is obtained from the hybridization between odorata / suavis and the violet of Parma|| |
Single flower violets,
double flowers violets,
Parma violets with simple flowers,
Parma violets with double or very double flowers.
|Exposure||Altaica, lutea, tricolor and other hybrids (usually annual)|| |
From exposure, beautiful, but rather delicate
From flowerbed, resistant and long flowering
Tricolor, with smaller flowers
|Rustic||Horned hybrids with pansy, also called williamsii. Suitable for rock gardens and containers|| |
Violas from flower beds, compact and with a generous and prolonged flowering
Violets, very refined, compact and with striped petals
Cornuta hybrids, with a posture similar to this one