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The plants of the month for March are pansies and violas28 February 2014
The plants of the month for March are pansies and violas, a lovely, cheery group of plants that never fails to put a smile on a gardener's face.
The two flowers are closely related, and we're often asked what the difference is. Well: it's mainly in flower size.
Pansies tend to be larger and come in brighter colours, including bicoloured and strikingly blotched varieties. They're a wonderful way to brighten your garden through early spring. Violas, on the other hand, have more dainty flowers, usually in single colours. They make a charming display among miniature bulbs or massed in pots for a table centrepiece.
Both pansies and violas flower from late autumn till late spring, only pausing in really chilly spells. They're happy in any soil in sun or part shade.
Once you've enjoyed the delights of bedding violas, you'll want to try perennial violas, too. These low-growing cottage garden favourites include the sweet violet (Viola odorata), much loved by the Victorians for its delicious scent, and the horned violet (Viola cornuta) in shades of lilac and pure white. Both make very pretty ground covers. Or for something more sultry, there's Viola labradorica 'Purpurea', its leaves tinged slatey purple: it makes a really eyecatching contrast teamed with snowdrops.