All Pansies are Violas but not all Violas are Pansies. The two words have become virtually interchangeable, but even though these plants share common origin, there are some differences that could determine which would make the most impact in your property’s landscaping.
Violas – Viola tricolor
These little beauties were imported from Europe in the 18th century. Viola flowers are smaller than their Pansy cousins – about the size of a nickel – but much more abundant. Violas also tend to be more heat and cold tolerant so that means an extended blooming season. The range of colors is not as extensive as Pansies but the traditional solid colors are available along with mixes like Penny Citrus Mix – a fun orange, yellow, and white combo.
Fun Fact: If the flower has four petals pointing upward and only one pointing downward – you’re looking at a Pansy. If the flower has two petals pointing upward and three petals pointing downward – you’ve got a Viola.
Pansies – Viola x wittrockiana
Probably the most recognizable cool weather flower there is, they are the result of breeding the traditional Viola above with other wild Viola varieties. Pansies are known for their large colorful flowers on dark green, compact plants. These colorful additions to the fall landscape love full sun and are available in “series” with vibrant saturated colors, playful “faces” or even traditional Victorian Era ruffles. With so many choices, we’ll share our favorites:
Fun Fact: Pansy comes from the French word pensée which means thought.
Pansy vs. Viola: They're Both Winners
Whichever plant you choose, Pansies and Violas will provide months of color in cooler temperatures and take center stage in a seasonal color display, colorfully border a landscaped planting bed, or liven up fall and winter container arrangements.
Fun Fact: Viola and Pansy flowers are edible and often used to decorate cakes and other baked treats.