Name: Viola x wittrockiana aka Spring Pansies
Type of Plant: The most popular cool-weather annual.
Why I Love This Plant: For those in the northern regions, this is the first annual we can plant outside in the spring. In fact, in many areas they can be planted in the fall and they’ll live through the winter, coming into flower in the spring. For those in slightly warmer areas, pansies are the winter flowers, planted in fall and blooming through the colder season.
Because the flowers are round, we often hear pansies described as having faces. Since they come in so many cheerful colors, those faces make us happy at this time of year.
The name pansy comes from the French word pensée, which means “thought” – because violas in the mid-15th century were said to be a symbol of remembrance. Now, they indeed remind us that spring is here and gardens are coming back to life.
Pansy flowers are edible, and you can either use them fresh in salads or for garnishing beverages, or you can press them to use on dishes later in the season.
A Word to the Wise: Know that when you buy pansies in the garden centers they have come from a greenhouse, so although they can be planted outside, they’ll take two or three weeks to adjust to the great outdoors.