1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pansy

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

PANSY, or Heartsease. This flower has been so long cultivated that its source is a matter of uncertainty. As we now see it, it is a purely artificial production, differing considerably from any wild plant known. It is generally supposed to he merely a cultivated form of Viola tricolor (see Violet), a cornfield weed, while others assert it to be the result of hybridization between V. tricolor and other species such as V. altaica, V. urandijlora, &c. Some experiments of M . Carriere go to show that seeds of the wild V. tricolor will produce forms so like those of the cultivated pansy that it is reasonable to assume that that flower has originate<l from the wild plant by continuous selection. The changes that have been effected from the wild type are,

Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor), about half nat. size.
1, Stamen, with spur. 3, Transverse section of same.
2, Pistil, after fertilization, cut lengthwise, showing the numerous parietally attached ovules. 1-3 enlarged.

however, more striking to the eye than really fundamental. Increase in size, an alteration in form, by virtue of which the narrow oblong petals are converted into circular ones, and variations in the intensity and distribution of the colour — these are the changes that have been wrought by continued selection, while the more essential parts of the flower have been relatively unaffected. The modern varieties of the pansy consist of the show varieties, and the fancy varieties, obtained from Belgium, and now very much improved. Show varieties are subdivided according to the colour of the flowers into selfs, white grounds and yellow grounds. The fancy or Belgian pansies have various colours blended, and the petals are blotched, streaked or edged. The bedding varieties, known as violas or tufted pansies, have been raised by crossing the pale-blue Viola cornula, and also V. lutea, with the show pansies. They are hardier than the true pansies and are free-blooming sorts marked rather by effectiveness of colour in the mass than by quality in the individual flower; they are extremely useful in spring and summer flower-gardening.

The pansy flourishes in well enriched garden soil, in an open but cool situation, a loamy soil being preferable. Cow-dung is the best manure on a light soil. The established sorts are increased by cuttings, whilst seeds are sown to procure novelties. The cuttings, which should consist by preference of the smaller non-flowering growths from the base of the plant, may be inserted early in September, in sandy soil, under a hand-light or in boxes under glass, and as soon as rooted should be removed to a fresh bed of fine sandy soil. The seeds may be sown in July, August or September. The bed may be prepared early in September, to be in readiness for planting, by being well manured with cow-dung and trenched up to a depth of 2 ft. The plants should be planted in rows at about a foot apart. In spring fhey should be mulched with half-rotten manure, and the shoots as they lengthen should be pegged down into this enriched surface to induce the formation of new roots. If the blooms show signs of exhaustion by the inconstancy of their colour or marking, all the flowers should be picked off, and this top-dressing and pegging-down process performed in a thorough manner, watering in dry weather, and keeping as cool as possible. Successional beds may be put in, about February, the young plants being struck later, and wintered in cold frames. The fancy pansies require similar treatment, but are generally of a more vigorous constitution.

When grown in pots in a cold frame, about half a dozen shoots filling out a 6-in. pot, pansies are very handsome decorative objects. The cuttings should be struck early in August, and the plants shifted into their blooming-pots by the middle of October; a rich open loamy compost is necessary to success, and they must be kept free of aphides. Both the potted plants and those grown in the open beds benefit by the use of liquid manure.