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December 26th 2018

Pansies and Violas for Cut Flowers

Written by
Floret

Last year I started seeing pansies being used more frequently in bouquets by designers who are either growing their own flowers or have access to a really high end flower market. I have always loved these sweet, cheerful little flowers, but never really considered them as a potential bouquet ingredient until recently.

Close up of violas and pansies at FloretLast winter, I collected all of the varieties that seemed most suited for cut flower production and put on a big ol’ trial. In total, we grew over 40 different varieties of pansies and violas. Pansies have a more stocky growth habit and produce larger faced flowers, while violas have a more airy and wild growth habit and much smaller flower heads. Both are pure magic!

The goal of this trial was to find both pansies and violas that had beautiful coloring with long enough stems for cutting and vigorous plant growth.

Floret Viola and pansy trial In addition to testing different varieties, we also tried out two growing methods to see which produced longer stems. Seeds were started in early February in 72 cell trays in our heated seedling greenhouse. Both pansies and violas are easy to start from seed and are great for beginning gardeners.

Pansy trial at Floret Floret Viola and pansy trial Floret Viola and pansy trial We planted the first batch of seedlings in mid March in one of our unheated hoophouses. Because all of our growing beds were spoken for, we had to get creative and ended up planting the pansies and violas in bulb crates filled with potting soil instead of in the ground.

A bulb crate is a black plastic box with slits in the side that bulbs from the Netherlands are typically shipped in. They measure 15 inches wide and 24 inches long and about 8-12 inches deep. We planted 24 plants into each crate, with plants spaced 3-4 inches apart. The reason for the close plant spacing is because we had limited room and we wanted to see if closer plant spacing would encourage the plants to grow more upright, resulting in longer stems.

Floret Viola and pansy trial The second method was planting the seedlings into landscape fabric with 9 inch spacing out in our field, growing them like we grow all of our other cut flowers. Seedlings went into the field mid April, right before our last frost.

Pansies and violas are cold tolerant and can handle cooler weather and I actually think we could have planted them a month sooner than we did, around the same time as the ones in the hoophouse.

Violas and pansies as cut flowers from FloretBoth growing methods worked well and both plantings produced long enough stems for cutting. The field plants produced bushier growth and flowered a little later, probably because they went into the ground later, even though they were started from seed at the same time.

The plants grown undercover were much taller and I think the closer spacing and protection from wind allowed them to produce more delicate trailing stems than their counterparts grown in the field. We find the same is true for almost any cut flower that’s grown undercover. Stems are typically 30-50% longer because the plants aren’t bracing themselves against wind and poor weather and can stretch more easily towards the light.

Violas and pansies as cut flowers from FloretViolas and pansies from FloretIt seems like the key with pansies and violas is choosing the right the varieties and then being patient because it takes time for their stems to stretch. We had blooms from early May through July and I was surprised by how heat tolerant they actually were.

All of the varieties that were included in the trial produced sufficient stem length for cutting. But only a handful of them had the colors and patterning that made them ideal candidates for arranging.

Violas and pansies from FloretBut the end of the growing season, we were harvesting stems that on average were 8-12 inches long, with some even stretching to 15 inches. Pansy stems are quite fragile so must be harvested with care.

They last an unbelievably long time in the vase. As the lower flowers on the stem begin to fade, new ones appear. We had cut pansies look beautiful well over a week in just plain water and 10+ days when we used flower food.

Violas and pansies from FloretGoing forward, I think planting into soil produces the healthiest plants, but if you have a protected spot in the garden, or room under cover to grow them, you will ultimately get longer stems.

While we grew over 40 varieties in the trial and all were beautiful, only 14 made the final cut. I love every variety featured in our shop and can’t wait to see their cheerful, adorable faces again this coming spring.

Violas and pansies from FloretIf you only have room for one variety, I recommend going with a mix.

The Rococo Frill Mix (pictured left) is a rich mix of yellow, velvet-purple, lavender and maroon petals with eye-catching veining. Petals are ruffled and edged with a lighter pigmentation, making them look like lace. These medium sized flowers carry a light fragrance.

The Aalsmeer King Size Mix (pictured right) includes gold, cranberry, lavender and bicolor flowers with distinct faces that look like butterflies. They have a ton of personality.

Pansy Apricot AntiqueIf you are looking for flowers in the peach tones, Pansy Nature Antique Shades (pictured left) has rich cranberry-rose blooms that fade to smokey peach and at last to light apricot.

Viola Gem Apricot Antique (pictured right) has antiqued plum colored blooms dusted with gold, giving them a peach quality. As flowers age, they lighten to a golden-apricot hue. They are also highly fragrant!  

Pansy Panola Pink Shades (left)If you’re looking for flowers for wedding work, Pansy Panola Pink Shades (pictured left) is a feminine mix of blushy purple to purple-mauve. Each flower has a dark face and a glowing yellow throat which remind me of orchids.

It looks stunning when mixed with Viola Gem Pink Antique (pictured right) because their petals are similarly colored but the flower heads are much smaller. The coolest thing about this variety is that the oldest flowers on a stem are tinted turquoise.

Pansies from FloretFor unusual novelty varieties, Pansy Frizzle Sizzle Yellow Blue Swirl (pictured left) carries a beautiful mix of frilly edged, fragrant flowers. Blooms darken as they age and are a gorgeous mix of smokey lavender-blue and gold with chocolate faces.

Pansy Envy (pictured right) produces flowers that range from chocolate to metallic lavender to yellow with a green cast. Strongly scented blooms have a sepia toned wash and look stunning planted en masse.

Close up of violas and pansies at FloretIf you’re looking for a fun new addition to your garden, I would highly recommend that you give pansies and violas a try. In addition to being easy to grow, cold tolerant and suitable for small spaces and containers, they also make wonderful, unexpected cut flowers.

To see all of the varieties that made the cut and read more about them, visit the Floret Shop.

If you submit a comment and it doesn’t show up right away, sit tight, we have a spam filter that requires we approve most comments before they are published. Lastly, if you feel like this information is helpful, I would love it if you would share it with your friends.

63 Comments

  1. Edward James on

    Great article, thanks for sharing this delightful pictures and useful information on pansies with us. Pansies are the cutest, we have a lot of them in our store. Pansies always make a great addition to your garden and give out positive vibes!

    Reply
  2. Lana on

    Hello! I planted out some long stem violas (from floret seed) in early March in zone 7 PA, but they are still only an inch or two tall and flowering like crazy. Should I pinch the flowers off of them to encourage height? Do I just need to be more patient? Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

    Reply
  3. John Valentine on

    I get a lot fron your posts. I have been gardenjng for 50+ years and appreciate the effort you put into your blog.

    Reply
  4. Laura on

    Wow I never considered you could get such long stems. I love pansies!

    Reply
  5. Molly Davidson on

    I have a goofy question as I know the answer is that is probably varies. How many blooms will one healthy plant produce? I would like to harvest the blooms on a weekly basis and I am trying to estimate the blooms count I will have available.

    Reply
  6. Parrish in Alabama on

    OMG!! I am in shock how long you got the stems to grow. Here in the South, (Birmingham, Al) no matter how much they grow they never really get taller they just kinda mound onto one another. They are a very popular plant for containers and bedding plants. We usually plant them in the Fall and they make it thru our mild winters and then perk up again for a show in early to mid Spring and then they bolt & die back in late Spring. They cant take our heat in the Summer. Maybe they never get long stems here because they don’t have a long, consistent growing period here. The only thing we could ever do with a pansy here is crystallize it and put it on a cake or put a few blooms in a little bud vase…… Thanks for the great information and sharing your trail!!!!

    Reply
  7. Ollie on

    Did you start the seeds in germ trays first or direct sow into the crates? Thank you soooo much for this! I’ve been wondering about pansies because they have are symbolic within queer culture, so I am really happy that I should be able to put them in bouquets this year. <3

    Reply
  8. Anab on

    Hello! Can pansies grow in tropical country?

    Reply
  9. Shells on

    Have you tried an autumn sowing for late autumn/early winter blooms? We have frosts from May/June and I am looking for the off-season flowers to maintain our few customers. Thanks for this, I had my pansy seeds in the ‘not cut flowers but still want to grow them’ pile..

    Reply
  10. Deborah Morgan on

    Thank for the wonderful info and superior seeds!! I look forward to your emails.

    Reply
  11. Debbie on

    Thanks for all the info! I almost started some of mine from seed this weekend so I’m glad I read this first. I’m regretting not getting a few more varieties after seeing your pictures, but there’s always next year!

    Reply
  12. Lori Merrill on

    Hello! I love violas….I plant them often…I look forward to planting Floret Seeds. I planted some last year and housed them in my shed. I have a sweet pic on my INstaGram @vintagethruthyme thank you for sharing all your knowledge! Lori

    Reply
  13. Amanda Baxter on

    The beautiful pictures are inspiring! Thank you for all the advice and encouragement to try new things in the garden.

    Reply
  14. Sherrell McColm on

    What a great idea to include pansies in a bouquet. Something I would never have thought of.
    Thank you and your team for all you do.
    I’m learning so much

    Reply
  15. Melissa Langlois on

    I love happy flowers and Pansy’s definitely are happy! Thank you for your diligence in creating such beautiful flowers! I’m inspired now and can’t wait for spring!

    Melisss

    Reply
  16. Rebecca H. on

    Pansies are indeed my favourite flower for landscaping as they can command the shoulder seasons. But as I also do a bit of floristry on the side; as a consumer how long do these last as a purchased cut flower or are they just too tender for that? Have you ever shipped them?

    Reply
  17. Anne Oberwalleney on

    Dear Erin, thank you so much for this Information and the masses of work it made bringing it to us! I am totally addicted to pansies, even more after a flowerclass with Fleuropean. I am in the second year of my cutflower Garden and sowed some pansies in different spots last autumn. Do you think, if I cover them, they can also make longer stems planted in a big pot, or do they need the conditions of a larger bed? Thank you and sunny wishes from Germany, Anne

    Reply
  18. Janet O on

    Thank you for this post. I had no idea that pansies and violas could be cut flowers. I’m going to give them a try again. I used to grow them but the rabbits in our neighborhood would always find them. I have a protected vegetable patch and will plant some seeds there and see how it goes!

    Reply
  19. Lorri on

    I love pansies they were one of my Grammas favorite. It will be fun to try these
    Thank you for sharing

    Reply
  20. Rachel Martz on

    Thank you for another great post! I too saw pansies popping up in floral work, and was curious about growing them for more than just a pretty addition to the garden. I knew they made a beautiful edible garnish, but I can’t wait to try them in arrangements!

    Reply
  21. Taylor Doyle on

    This post was so much fun and incredibly informative! I am a floral designer in north Texas with clay in my soil and a tiny backyard so anything that is easy in containers makes me giddy!

    Reply
  22. Aleida on

    I’m in an apartment but I LOVE reading your posts, admiring the pictures, and daydreaming about having a garden one day!

    Reply
  23. Pauline on

    Thanks for all your hard work and sharing your trial results. Makes gardening easier with fun results.

    Reply
  24. Caroline on

    Thanks for this really useful article and for sharing the results of your trial in to different varieties and stem lengths from different growing methods. I grow violas from seed (and shall try some under cover this year too)….I love them in the garden and for bouquets and posies and also use the individual flower heads as pretty decorations for salads and cakes (either fresh or crystalized).

    Reply
  25. Lindsey C on

    This is a great article. I can’t wait to try my hand st growing these. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  26. Kharizma on

    This is exciting! Thank you for doing the hard part, trials!! I always plant pansies in March and let them self seed. I use them in cooking and have used them in mini bouquets, but mostly I love their little faces. I moved to a different region of my state and last year I planted my typical mixed flat of pansies and some native violas. The violas went away and I trust they seeded. But my pansies are still going strong today. The blooms have slowed down and rot faster with rains but the, now bushes, are bright green and lush! It’s been a fun surprise! Long stem pansies are now on my radar! And I have not grown them from seed before, I think I will try that this year. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Reply
  27. anthony cinicolo on

    I’m in zone 7A, can I grow these varieties of pansies as perennials and still get the same stem length and overall cut flower quality?

    Reply
    • Team Floret on

      That’s a great question but unfortunately I don’t know the answer. We grew ours as annuals and then let them self seed where they wanted. If you can perennialize them I’d love to hear how it goes.

  28. Lucy on

    I’m so excited to try pansies in my cutting garden this year- thank you so much for the inspiration and information!

    Reply
  29. Kate Worrell on

    I love these! I’m frequently caught in a Floret rabbit hole thinking that everything you guys do is magic! Then I find myself rushing over to see how I can make these beauties grow in the Arctic tundra of Northern Wisconsin! Absolutely beautiful.

    Reply
  30. cmbcole on

    I love pansies! These are beautiful.

    Reply
  31. Susan on

    I’ve grown pansies many years just to have something colorful to survive our southern winters but never thought of any growing long enough for cutting, love the post. Thanks!

    Reply
  32. Lillian flint on

    I love the final results and love that yall are trying new unique ideas
    The peachy ones are my favorite

    Reply
  33. Elisha on

    Great info and lovely pictures!

    Reply
  34. Deb on

    My favorite flowers for sure, I press them and they hold their color beautifully! I soooo enjoy your blog and Instagram feed, thanks for sharing all your knowledge and beauty. Your Instagram friend, gonetocapecod

    Reply
  35. Shannon on

    I love pansies! I had no idea that they could grow tall enough to use in arrangements!

    Reply
  36. Paula on

    I love pansies and violas for edible flowers. I’d be so happy if you offered edibles in organically grown seed:)

    Reply
  37. Sarah Joy on

    This is amazing! I love these posts! Keep them coming :)

    Reply
  38. Ruth on

    It’s so different to think of pansies as a cut flower? They’ve always been in my life, but solely as a garden plant. Thank you for this introduction and sharing so much information. I really find the details about the growing trials such as spacing, cover, placement, growing medium and protection the most helpful as well as how well the different species and varieties do in climatic conditions. So, thank you for your time and commitment to spreading beauty.

    Reply
  39. Ashlee on

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and the hard work you put in to it.
    My yard has barely any full sun spots which makes it difficult to plant nice things. I am saving all your tips for the day I have a suitable yard!

    Reply
  40. Mags on

    I too have always loved pansies and violas and have many happy memories of greeting them in the spring on my grandmothers farm.
    I am currently designing a large edible landscape in a public space to encourage home gardeners to include edibles in ways they may not have thought of previously.
    I am excited to incorporate one or two of your mixes in the design.
    Your love of flowers and your generosity in sharing your knowledge are a true gift. Thank you.

    Reply
  41. Frida on

    I love the idea to grow pansies as cut flowers. I really want to grow flowers that the costumers won’t find at the local florist shop. The seeds I find here in sweden have very short stems, 15-20 cm. is it possible to force them to grow taller? It’s expensive to pay for custom and it’s not so climate friendly to ship seeds across the glob either…though I really would love to grow your beautiful pansie seeds!

    Reply
  42. Lenore Messick on

    Here in Denmark pots of pansies and violets are available for sale at every supermarket starting in early spring, along with pots of primroses and spring bulbs. I can’t help but think that this is an easier way to enjoy the special beauty of these flowers that’s closer to their spirit? They are so lovely in tiny posies with other tiny spring things-it seems almost a shame to force them to stand up so straight.

    Reply
  43. Sara on

    I am so excited by your innovative thinking in this area! Pansies have a heart-connection for me since my Grandma grows them in abundance… As a cut flower, I think they have great potential to endear people and start conversations, especially since the old-fashioned gems are not typically seen in bouquets! Thanks for sharing the wisdom you’ve acquired through all the hard work and testing. I’m continually blown away and inspired by all the nuggets you make available! Blessings!

    Reply
  44. Laurie on

    I’m a retired rose grower. I still love growing for my and friends bouquets. These pansies look wonderful. I’m excited to try them.

    Reply
  45. Kristen on

    I’m just your basic at home gardener who loves arranging cut flower bouquets so I’m so excited about this option! I’m going to get these mixes from you and dedicate a planter box just for some pansies. Excited for spring to come! Thank you!

    Reply
  46. Shari on

    I’ve always cut pansies and violas. I’m ok with shorter stems though. If you really want them to last, cut the individual flower stems right at the main stems (without cutting the main stem). You’ll easily get 10 to 14 days from them. But that’s not commercial and the all important floral designers must be appeased. I’m actually surprised by this post. Pansies and violas have very fragile main stems and are subject to breakage and/or rot, especially if the leaves are removed. They are gorgeous flowers but I cannot for the life of me imagine them as commercial flowers, given the way flowers are handled in general. The antique varieties are especially fragile but some of the most beautiful things on earth.

    Reply
  47. Carolyn Radakovich on

    Hands down my favorite flowers and the first my mom taught me to grow. I’ve long wanted to incorporate them into bouquets but have struggled with stem length so this is perfect! Thank you!

    Reply
  48. Cachae on

    Thank you for sharing your continued hunt for new trials! This post felt organized and super easy to read, I really appreciate that when absorbing new information. And of course the photos (all the heart eyes!) This blogpost has definitely inspired me, can’t wait to scoop some pansy and viola seeds up when the new Floret seeds go on sale!

    Reply
  49. Gina Schley on

    I’m a little nervous to grow these. While they are beautiful, I’m not sure designers will buy them –even if I could get them to grow 12″, its still a shorter length stem. Last year, I found designers wanted a minimum of 18″. I grew beautiful calendula but because of their shorter stems they didn’t sell well. Also, they are not something designers are used to working with so there is a learning curve. Curious if you were able to sell them all or just use them in your own designs?

    Reply
  50. Chimene Kirkpatrick on

    I am so thankful for your blog and the window of expertise it provides. Also love getting lost in your flower world and envisioning my own. Such lovely pictures that truly inspire ♡ Thank you so much for taking the time to write.

    Reply
  51. Melissa on

    Thanks so much for sharing the results of this great trial. Did you find you had to pinch or harvest a few times before getting stems of a useable length?

    Reply
  52. cathy mcs on

    i have always frown pansies and violas
    in 2018 we sold many blooms to a local wedding cake maker
    by keeping the flowers picked we ended up with almost continuous blooming
    thanks for the tips for longer stems for bouquets

    Reply
  53. Anna on

    I cannot WAIT to try these! I love them.

    Reply
  54. nole on

    I love pansies! I always wondered about their cold and heat tolerance – I’d love to plant some of these seeds in my front garden to see how they do!

    Reply
  55. Shelly on

    Pansies have always been a favourite of mine! Growing up on my parents farm I would beg my dad not to rototill every self-seeded pansy that grew in the big veggie garden! We always (and still do) called those pansies ‘Jumping jacks’ (very small purple petals with yellow and white faces).

    I can’t wait to try growing longer stemmed pansies/violas for bouquets though! Thank you for your hard work Floret team!

    Reply
  56. Melissa Brent- MH Landscape Design LLC on

    I love pansies! They are the first signs that my clients “flower fairies” (my team and I) are back to work after a long cold CT Winter. Everyone appreciates them but I never thought to use them as a cutting flower! I have a few clients who love to cut flowers from their garden and this would be a great way for them to get the best bang for their buck given the short time we usually keep the pansies in their pots and beds! Thank you for taking the time research and write about these pretty little Spring gems.

    Reply
  57. Lisa Ulery on

    In the past, these were not tall enough to use as cut flowers and they reseeded themselves and took over. I am really happy to find their are taller varieties to enjoy! They have beautiful faces!

    Reply
  58. Kelsey on

    This is so interesting! I always assumed pansies had short stems and wouldn’t be good for cutting. Thank you for writing about them!

    Reply
  59. Alexis on

    I hadn’t thought of pansies in my cutting garden before but I am now! Thanks for the perspectives on the two different growing methods and for sharing the results :)

    Reply
  60. Melanie Darcy on

    They are edible, but only if they’ve not been sprayed. I’ve been growing pansies and violas for the last few years now purely for colour in the garden and adding a pretty touch to cakes, salads and other desserts. I’m excited now to try and find a way to incorporate them into my garden this winter for ct flowers too.

    Reply

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