Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Violas vs Pansies-- What’s the best for the property you manage?

pale blue violas 
What's best for the properties you manage? 
Crabapple LandscapExperts can help property managers and HOA Reps differentiate between Violas and Pansies and help you select the best varieties for winter color in flower beds on the properties Crabapple maintains. 

When there is a choice, we recommend violas!

University of Georgia Horticulture Prof Dr. Allan Armitage agrees. In an amusing article in the April 28, 2009 issue of Greenhouse Growermagazine Armitage writes from the UGA Trial Garden, “Every year we've trialed pansies and violas. Our garden data shouts that violas are better performers, fill in faster, look better earlier and are more colorful than pansies. Every year! Yet, viola sales still lag ridiculously behind pansy sales in this country.

Violet Family
These small and showy Viola plants are part of a flowering Plant Family called the Violaceae, that grow around the world and have somewhere around 500 species that promiscuously hybridize with each other, given close proximity. The genus Viola includes biennial violas and pansies and perennial true violets (but not the tropical African Violet or Saintpaulia).

Border with Cabbage, Violas
Violas (a.k.a. Johnny Jump-Ups or Heartsease) are smaller, more perky with thicker petals and more cold tolerant. They fill in faster and look better more quickly. Remarkable advances in breeding have made Violas into "blooming idiots", shaking off low temperatures and adding brilliant bright colors to the landscape for 7 or 8 months during the cool part of the year, from October through April. 

DYK? All pansies, violets and violas are edible and add color and interest to tossed salads. Smaller violas are terrific candied and set on top of small squares of fudge.  

Candied Johnny-Jump-Ups
Recipe! Candied Violas and Violets 
Mix 2 t. water with an egg white and beat until frothy.
Coat each blossom in the egg mixture.
Sprinkle with superfine granulated sugar
Allow to dry. Store until enjoyed on cakes or brownies.

Although Pansy flowers are larger with flowers that fit into a perfect circle and (thanks to the breeders) a rainbow of colors, they need a few days to recuperate after particularly cold weather. The big, floppy petals are perfect to tear up and put in a tossed salad, adding color, interest and vitamins.

Atlanta Botanical Garden Horticulturists choose Violas
Dr. Armitage  memorably recommends Violas, coining the term, Multiflora Pansies.    
  • Trying to teach the consumer the differences between a viola and a pansy is like kicking a dead horse. Let's move on.
  • The adage "bigger is better" seems to be gospel when consumers are comparing violas and pansies on the retail bench. 
  •  If the word "viola" is not penetrating the market, let's borrow from the rose and petunia people and call them floribunda pansies. Not sexy, but at least instructional.  (Dr. Allan Armitage in Greenhouse Grower magazine April 28 2009 issue

Pansy petals fit a perfect circle 
Digging Deeper. For more information, go to the website of the Viola and Pansy Society.

photos copyright Geri Laufer, please give credit 

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