An old-fashioned favorite from grandmother's garden, Viola tricolor is the progenitor of the cultivated Pansy, before the cultivated Pansies were developed, 'Pansy' was an alternative name for the wild form.
The Heartsease, or Wild Pansy is very different in habit from any other kind of Viola, is abundantly met on banks and in hedgerows, it can also be found freely growing in cornfields and garden ground. It blossoms almost throughout the entire floral season, expanding its attractive little flowers in the early days of summer and keeping up a succession of blossom until late in autumn.
Miniature flowers that blend together violet, lavender, yellow and some white in each face. It may come in many cultivated colours, but the basic wild form of this endearing little viola is scarcely anything that needs improving.
Although they may prefer moist well-draining soil in a cool semi-shaded location, they are very adaptable and they do well in most situations, these 'cat-faced' beauties are so tiny they can be sown over even the smallest early-spring bulbs. The plants will flower continuously from summer to winter, and are compact enough for rockeries, walls or edging. Useful in shady areas, beds, borders, containers, rock gardens and as a cut flower. The flowers flowers are pollinated by bees.
As an edible flower, they can be washed by floating the blossoms in a pan of water. Sprinkled on top of salads or arranged neatly on puddings, the flowers make the most beautiful garnish.
Sowing: Sow in late summer/autumn and late winter/late spring.
Keep seeds chilled until you are ready to sow. Do not sow with high temperatures.
Spring sowings will give flowers during early summer, whilst summer and autumn sowings will bloom the following winter or spring.
Make a mixture of compost and approx 10% sand, to give a little drainage. Sieve the compost into pots or cell packs and press it down lightly. Add a little more compost if necessary. Make a small indentation with your finger and pop the seeds into it. Cover lightly with more sieved soil. Place the containers in a cold greenhouse, outside in a cold frame or plunge them up to the rims in a shady part of the garden border and cover with glass or clear plastic.
Some of the seeds may germinate during the spring and summer and these should be transplanted when large enough to handle. The remainder of the seeds may lay dormant until next spring.
Seeds can be left to go through the seasons naturally as above, or, if planting at any other time of year, germination can be hastened by stratifying (imitating the seasons). Sow seeds as above and leave for 2 to 4 weeks. Transplant any seedlings that may have germinated. Then chill the remaining seeds: put the tray into the refrigerator at -4°C to +4°C (24-39°F), or somewhere with a similar temperature for 6 to 8 weeks. Then remove to around 10°C (50°F)
The normal temperature of a fridge is 4°C (very useful!). Don’t put the seeds into the freezer, it will kill them.
When seedlings have their first pair of true leaves and are large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Pot on year-old seedlings and grow on in well ventilated conditions for another year before planting outside permanently.
Plant the tubers 3cm to 5cm (1in to 2in) deep in humus-rich soil under the shade of trees. Plant 20cm (8in) apart and water well until established..
Mulch annually with leaf mould to help prevent the tubers from drying out in the summer and from winter cold.
Remove spent flowers to prolong the flowering season. If the plants are cut back after flowering they will flower again in late summer.
Divide in the autumn or just after flowering. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are established. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flowers Borders and Beds, Alpine & Rockeries, Under-planting roses and shrubs, Containers, pots & hanging baskets.
The prolific blooms of violas and pansies offer a welcome splash of colour, but many gardeners don’t think of using them as cut flowers. These delicate flowers work best in small bottles and vases. And when you bring them into the warmth of your house you’ll notice, perhaps for the first time, their sweet fragrance.
Violas are among the most popular edible flowers, and with good reason. All flowers are beautiful, but violas are easy to grow and are among the few flowers that actually taste good.
Both the flowers and leaves in fresh and dried forms have been standard fare in Europe since before the 14th century. The simple addition of a few brilliant blooms transforms any dish into an elegant presentation.
Fresh flowers are most often used for garnishing and crystallizing. Culinary uses include jams and jellies, teas, garnishes and salads. Candied violas are easy to make and look stunning atop cakes, ice cream, cookies, or other desserts.
The pungent perfume of Viola odorata adds inimitable sweetness to desserts, fruit salads and teas while the mild pea flavour of most other viola varieties and species combines equally well with sweet or savory foods, like grilled meats and steamed vegetables.
The heart-shaped leaves of the v. odorata provide a free source of greens throughout a long growing season. They add texture to green salads when young and tender. Later in the season, slightly tougher, older leaves are cooked with other potted herbs and greens in soups, stews and stir-fry’s.
Viola is the largest genus in the family Violaceae, containing between 525 and 600 species. Violets are native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere and are also distributed in Hawaii, Australasia, and the Andes in South America. Violets are found in moist and slightly shaded conditions such as hedgerows.
Viola tricolor is a common European wild flower, growing as an annual or short-lived perennial. It is usually found in partial shade, growing in short grassland on farms and wasteland, chiefly on acid or neutral soils.
It is the progenitor of the cultivated pansy, and is therefore sometimes called wild pansy; before the cultivated pansies were developed, "pansy" was an alternative name for the wild form.
The genus name Violet is the diminutive form of the Latin Viola, the Latin form of the Greek name Ione. There is a legend that when Jupiter changed his beloved Io into a white heifer for fear of Juno's jealousy, he caused these modest flowers to spring forth from the earth to be fitting food for her, and he gave them her name.
The species name tricolor, meaning 'three colours'. This corolla can be purple, purple, blue, yellow or white. It can most often be two-tone, yellow and purple. The tricolor shape, yellow, white and purple, is the most sought after.
Long before cultivated pansies were released into the trade in 1839, Violas were associated with thought in the 'language of flowers',
The name 'pansy' is derived from the French word pensée, meaning 'thought', A name which is still used in France today. It was imported into Late Middle English as a name of Viola in the mid-15th century, as the flower was regarded as a symbol of remembrance. Hence Ophelia's often quoted line in Shakespeare's Hamlet, "There's pansies, that's for thoughts". What Shakespeare had in mind was Viola tricolor, the wild pansy, not a modern garden pansy.
Viola tricolor is also commonly known as Johnny Jump Up, Heartsease or Heart's Ease. Other names include heart's delight, tickle-my-fancy, Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me, come-and-cuddle-me, three faces in a hood, or love-in-idleness.
As some of the names imply, heartsease has a long history of use in herbalism and folk medicine, while 'love in idleness' was meant to imply the image of a lover who has little or no other employment than to think of his beloved.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 125mg Average Seed Count 200 Seeds Family Violaceae Genus Viola Species tricolor (occasionally tricolour) Cultivar Wildflower of Britain and Ireland Common Name Heartsease, Wild Pansy, Johnny Jump Up Other Common Names Love in Idleness, Live in Idleness, Herb Constancy, Herb Trinity Other Language Names Fr: Pensée Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers May to October Height 15 to 20cm (8in) Spread 30cm (12in) Position Full sun to mostly shade. Soil Well-drained/light, Moist