Consumer Qs: pansies and violas

Published 12:56 pm Saturday, November 26, 2016

Question: What is the difference between pansies and violas?
Answer: The difference is more comparative than botanical. The plants sold under the name “viola” generally have smaller and more numerous flowers than a typical “pansy” which has larger but fewer flowers. There are more varieties of pansies than violas, and pansy varieties have a broader color range, at least for now. Both violas and pansies will produce an equally showy display in the landscape and are often used side by side.
You will find pansies and violas for sale in nurseries and garden centers in the fall. Few flowers other than bearded irises offer such an array of color. Yellow, gold, crimson, dark red, rose, blue, violet, lavender, purple, white, cream, apricot, orange and combinations of these are all part of the pansy/viola palette. Some are almost black. These dark beauties look like they are made of velvet and provide an ideal contrast to yellow, white and orange varieties.
Georgia growers sowed seeds for pansies and violas back in July or August and nursed the seedlings through late summer so that all gardeners and landscapers have to do is pick out the forms and colors they want when they go to a nursery or garden center.
Plant pansies and violas in sunny areas in well-prepared beds or containers filled with potting soil. Water them well at planting. Especially be sure to keep those in containers watered during winter dry spells. Keep dead blooms pinched off to encourage new blooms to appear. If seed pods form, the plants may stop flowering. To fertilize, use an all-purpose balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 and follow directions on the label. Remember it is always better to under-fertilize than to use too much.
If you don’t want just pansies and violas, you can add winter color with other hardy annuals such as snapdragons, ornamental kale and cabbage, dusty miller, dianthus and curly parsley.
Visit a local nursery or garden center today to see what varieties of pansies, violas and winter annuals are available. The staff there can advise you on preparing your beds with compost or soil amendments and what fertilizers to choose. If you aren’t sure about what color flowers look best together, they can probably help you with that as well.

Q: Do you eat the skin on Delicata squash?
A: The skin is tender and edible, but a specific recipe and your own preferences will determine whether peel it or not. Roasting is one of the best ways to prepare Delicata squash, and they should not be peeled for that.
To roast: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F; wash the squash thoroughly; cut the squash in half and remove seeds; cut the halves into ½ inch segments; toss them with a little olive oil; place on a roasting pan; roast until tender (25-30 minutes) turning every 7 to 10 minutes to increase browning and caramelization on the surface touching the pan. Salt to taste. Finely chopped rosemary or another herb may be sprinkled on the squash prior to roasting.

Q: Is there such a thing as an orange tea olive?A: Yes, there is a form of tea olive (Osmanthus fragrans) that has orange flowers instead of the normal creamy white. It is sometimes sold under the name Aurantiacus or under its botanical name Osmanthus fragrans f. aurantiacus. The orange form will add a little extra color to your fall garden as well as the apricot-like fragrance that the tea olive is prized for. You may also find a yellow variety named Conger Yellow at some garden centers.

Q: I thought halva was always made from sesame seeds. I purchased some prepackaged Ukrainian halva recently, and it caused an allergic reaction. I discovered it was made from sunflower seeds, something I am allergic to. However, it did not have any ingredients listed. Shouldn’t it have had the ingredients listed?
A: All foods that are offered for customer self-serve, like the prepackaged halva you purchased, should be properly labeled to include the full list of ingredients. This does not apply to foods that only have one ingredient (peanuts, apples, etc.) or for foods that are handed/served directly to the customer (food service).

Q: I saw a flower named stokesia at the garden center. Is it a good plant for Georgia?
A: Yes. Stokesia (Stokesia laevis), also known as Stokes’ aster and cornflower aster, is a beautiful native wildflower that makes an excellent garden plant.
It is an evergreen perennial with wisteria blue flowers that is native mostly along the coastal plain from North Carolina to Florida to Louisiana. It typically grows one to two feet tall and seems to prefer moist, yet well-drained (especially in winter) soil. It is much more cold-tolerant than its native range would suggest. Although native, you are more likely to encounter it in a garden than in the wild, however.
Stokesia blooms in early summer and may repeat in the fall. There are different cultivars on the market that vary in color and height from the straight species. Stokesia likes full sun to partial shade and is a good companion for butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), spigelia (Spigelia marilandica), daylilies and purple coneflowers.

From Georgia Department of Agriculture,.