Age-Old Wisdom meets Modern Tools
How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Pansies
Pansies are the colorful flowers with “faces.” A cool-weather favorite, pansies are great for both spring and fall gardens! Here’s how to keep your pansies growing and blooming.
Pansies have heart-shaped, overlapping petals and one of the widest ranges of bright, pretty colors and patterns.
Good for containers, borders, and as ground cover, they are a go-to flower for reliable color almost year-round.
Are pansies annual or perennial flowers?
The pansy may be treated as either an annual or a perennial, depending on your climate. However, most gardeners treat this plant as an annual because it prefers cool weather and gets too leggy in the heat of summer. There hasn’t been much success in producing heat-tolerant pansies that can adequately survive hot weather.
Pansies are surprisingly hearty in cold weather, though. They’ll survive a frost, bouncing back from even single digit temperatures. If the blooms wither in the cold, the plants will often stay alive to bloom again, which makes them a great flowering plant for fall and early winter color.
When to Plant Pansies
- Pansies can be finicky to start from seed; it’s a lot easier to buy established plants from a local nursery. Plus, you’ll get blooms a lot sooner.
- Pansy seeds may be slow to germinate (typically emerging in anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on soil temperature). Start pansy seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost.
- Start seeds in late winter for early spring and summer flowering, or in late summer for fall and winter flowering.
- Plant adult pansies when the ground becomes workable in the spring. They grow best when soil temperatures are between 45°F and 65°F (7°C and 18°C).
- Pansies can tolerate a light frost just after planting, but try to hold off on putting them in the ground if temperatures are still regularly reaching well below freezing.
Where to Plant Pansies
- Plant in moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil. See our articles on soil amendments and preparing soil for planting for more information.
- Pansies like full or partial sun, but need cooler temperatures to thrive. The ideal planting site will get morning sun but avoid the heat of the late afternoon.
- Space the plants about 7 to 12 inches apart. They will spread about 9 to 12 inches and grow to be about 6 to 9 inches tall.
How to Care for Pansies
- Remember to water pansies regularly. One of the most common reasons pansies fail is because they are not watered enough, so if your pansies are not doing well, try watering them more.
- You can use a general, all-purpose fertilizer around your pansies to help them grow. Be wary of using a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer, though, as this can result in more foliage instead of flowers.
- Remove faded/dead flowers to encourage the plants to produce more blooms and to prolong the blooming season.
- ‘Jolly Joker’, which blooms in spring and summer and has orange flowers with deep purple upper petals and a purple outline.
- Princess Series, which offer a variety of colors such as blue, purple, and yellow.
- Fama Series, which flowers in winter and spring and offers a wide variety of single- and mixed-colored flowers.
See 10 pansy varieties and pretty pictures!
Wit & Wisdom
- Pansies symbolize “thinking” or “thoughts.” The word “pansy” itself comes from French pensée, meaning “thought.” Find out more flower meanings here.
- Pansies are one of several edible garden flowers! They have a mild minty flavor and make for a lovely edible flourish on a salad or dessert.
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|Botanical Name||Viola x wittrockiana|
|Sun Exposure||Full Sun, Part Sun|
|Soil pH||Slightly Acidic to Neutral|
|Bloom Time||Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter|
|Flower Color||Blue, Multicolor, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow|
|Hardiness Zones||2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9|
|Special Features||Attracts Butterflies|