Long-stemmed Pansies: Who Knew?

– Posted in: Plant info

Judy, how did you ever even know there were such things as pansies with long stems suitable for cutting? I always thought short-stemmed pansies were just the way they were, though, come to think of it, I have seen rather leggy Johnny-jump-ups, and they are near kin.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

When dealing with frost it is always best to be paranoid. In the spring never think it is too late for one more frost to come. And in the fall never think it too early.

~Rundy in Frost

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Alice December 28, 2005, 11:42 pm

Kathy – where I live is about 2000 feet above sea level and 2 hours drive inland from the east coast (Pacific Ocean). Winters in Canberra are generally fairly dry, with about 30 frosts in the season. A frosty morning will usually be about -2 degrees, but can go down to minus 5 or 6. If we have a frost then we almost invariably have a fine, sunny day with clear blue sky. The frost will melt by about 9.00am and the afternoon temp may reach 13 degrees. The Snowy Mountains, which includes Australia’s highest peak Mt Kosciusko (2228metres) are about 3 hours drive south of Canberra. It’s our major snow skiing resort but we rarely get snow in Canberra although it can be seen on the surrounding hills from time to time. We can, in fact, work in the garden most days of the year – a few days are a bit too cold and a few in the summer are a bit too hot (like today). This weekend is forecast to be 38 degrees.

We were out early this morning spreading mulch on the gardens in an attempt to retain the moisture, and we’ll continue this evening when it cools down a bit. I would have had it done earlier in the season but there was so much stuff that needed pulling out or cutting back that I just didn’t get it done.

Kathy Purdy December 28, 2005, 5:07 pm

That’s about 92F! Do you enjoy reading about snow and cold at this time of the year? I know I enjoy reading Texas garden blogs, and seeing their flowers blooming when we have snow on the ground. How cold does it get during your winter season?

Alice December 27, 2005, 2:27 pm

Kathy – I have been gardening for more than 50 years but I didn’t know there was such a thing as long-stemmed pansies. However, I grew up on a dairy farm in Victoria, Australia, and during my teen years I worked the gardens at home. My brother had trucks and carted cattle. Three times a week he would clean the straw and manure off the decks of the trucks into a big heap. After a few months I would cart barrowloads of this straw/manure compost to the gardens and spread it about 6 inches deep. The plants loved it – all except the Australian Native plants, and I didn’t like them much anyway, then. The pansies were huge and always had large flowers and strong stems 6″-8″ long. They could be picked for the vase just like any other flower. I don’t remember the variety of pansy, although some of them may well have been Swiss Giants as they have been around for many, many years.

I’ve only just discovered your site so I’m looking forward to reading more. I must go and do some more work outside now before it gets too hot. Forecast of 33C degrees for today.

Kathy Purdy December 22, 2005, 2:21 pm

I don’t think you’re any older than I am, but my mom wasn’t growing much in the way of flowers when I was a child. (I was the oldest of seven; that might have something to do with it.) I’ll be keeping my eye out for Swiss Giants.

Judy Miller December 22, 2005, 11:14 am

It’s my advanced age.
Pansies always used to be long-stemmed; memories from my childhood are of pansies about 6-8″ high, and of picking them for bouquets. Breeding, especially in the past 10-15 years or so, has increasingly focused on ‘upfacing’ (read: no stem, or incredibly short peduncle, the stem between the main body of the pansy and the flower) and ‘compact’ as the two major attributes.
In fact if you read reports from pansy trials, long-stemmedness is a demerit. Whereas, if you read pansy & viola judging details from the UK’s National Pansy & Viola Society, long-stemmedness is a virtue. (This centered text is a pain! I’ll look into it.)
I think the breeders went for no-neck so that flats of pansies on the shelf in stores would be full of color no-one had to stoop to see–a form of 55-mph gardening which is totally ridiculous for the home gardener. Though, if you’re breeding for the gardener who just wants color and doesn’t want to ever touch or smell their flowers, one step up from astroturfing the yard, I suppose it’s ok.

Swiss Giants is one of the remaining varieties with long enough stems for cutting (but not ‘Majestic Giants’–they are blobbettes) and can be found in mixed and separate colors.