Can pansies survive frost

Can Pansies Survive Frost? ​How To Prepare Your Pansies For Winter

​Pansies that are planted when temperatures drop below 45° F usually become stunted with pale leaves and fewer flowers. This is because the immature root system is strained by the cold so it doesn’t absorb nutrients properly. Meanwhile, pansies planted when temperatures are still warm will appear yellow. They also flower poorly and are more prone to pests and frost damage.

​If you live in Zones 4-8, it is best to do protective measures to ensure that the pansies survive the freezing temperature. You can do this by shielding the plants with dry winter mulch. Apply 2-4 inches thick of pine straw over your garden bed. The mulch aids in trapping the heat in the soil and minimizes its exposure to cold wind. Gently remove the pine straw after wintertime. You may also use special frost protection blanket to cover your plants.

​It is also important to choose healthy seedlings. Healthy plants rapidly grow the root system which is vital for winter survival.

​Good drainage is another measure to consider. Saturated soil compromises their ability to thrive in cold season, so make sure that they are planted in a well-drained area.

Hardy Pansy Varieties For Winter

As a rule of thumb, pansies with medium-size flowers are more favorable in winter compared to varieties with larger flowers. Here are known varieties that overwinter well:

Did you ever plant pansies, only to find out a snowstorm is on the way? We’re here to tell you what happened when we planted our pansies, and then a surprise snowstorm occurred overnight. Can you guess the outcome?

Planting pansies early

Pansies are known for their hardiness. People usually plant them in early spring, knowing that they can survive colder temperatures. Here are the pansies we planted. Aren’t these orange pansies beautiful?

We also planted yellow ones in a pretty planter stand that was crafted out of wood.

And then it snowed

On April 19th, we awoke to an unexpected snow-covered yard. It was so beautiful, until sheer panic set in when I realized my pansies were outside. Some of them were under a covered porch, while others were in containers unprotected from the elements. And then there were the ones that I planted directly in the window boxes of our shed. My heart sank.

According to the news reports, the rain changed over to sleet around midnight. It was followed by about an inch of snow. So when I looked at the pansies around 7:00 a.m. they were covered in snow. I hustled to lug the containers into the house, hoping that they weren’t outside too long. Within an hour, the snow melted, and after another hour things were looking optimistic.

By the end of the day, I knew the yellow and orange pansies would be fine. As for the pansies out in the window boxes, I wasn’t able to bring those indoors. I thought about covering the plants with a plastic bag or pillow case, but instead I just let Mother Nature take her course. What was the result? They were fine! We were so thrilled that all of the pansies survived.

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Lessons learned

Pansies can survive cold temperatures slightly under 32 degrees. They can even survive a light sleet and snow storm. In fact, the ice may have acted as an insulation to protect the flowers.

Frost Protection Covers for Plants

Did you know there are special frost protection covers for plants available, like this one:

PHI VILLA Plant Protector Bag Frost Protection Cover Plant Cover

These covers are terrific because they come in all different sizes. You can use them to cover plants, bushes and even small fruit trees to protect them from a frost.

Going forward, we plan to keep an eye on the daily forecast, so that we can take necessary precautions. Anything is possible here in New England. So if a larger snowstorm is headed your way, be sure to bring your pansies indoors.

Happy gardening! 🙂

As we head into the colder months, flower beds can often start to look a little stark. Luckily, winter flowering pansies are a simple and reliable way to brighten up your garden on those darker days.

Here’s everything you need to know about winter pansies, including the best time to plant them, how long they last, how often you need to water them and everything in-between.

When should you plant winter pansies?

Ideally, plant your pansy seeds in borders or pots during September and early October – this will give them a better chance to grow sturdy roots and flowers. The lingering warmth in the soil during this pre-winter period helps to support faster growth and will prepare your pansies for producing more flowers over winter.

Pansy Matrix F1 Autumn Select Mixed £19.99

Is October to November too late to plant winter pansies?

A hardy species, winter pansies will flower for the majority of the winter season and into spring even when planted in late October or November.

Though they prefer sun, pansies also grow well in partial shade meaning that even in these darker months they will yield a display. However, it is worth noting that pansies planted later on are less likely to survive harsh winter weather because they have had less time to develop robust roots.

Tips on caring for winter pansies

  1. To lengthen the blooming period of your pansies, pinch out flower heads that have finished blooming to ensure that nutrients aren’t wasted. These removed heads will grow new buds, producing more flowers that will last for a longer period.
  2. Be sure to fertilise your pansies after planting, during late autumn and again in spring.
  3. Pansies grow better in the sunshine so when planting them always ensure that they’re facing the sun to help them thrive.

Alison Christoforidou / EyeEmGetty Images

Do winter pansies come back every year?

Winter flowering pansies are bred to withstand frosty temperatures, drooping during harsher conditions and rebounding when temperatures rise.

How long do winter pansies last?

If properly planted and well cared for, winter pansies can last for three years or more.

Do you need to water winter pansies?

Despite British winters being notoriously wet, pots under covered areas can still dry out. For the best possible results, make sure covered pansies are regularly watered (and likewise have good drainage). Check your pansies weekly for any dryness by placing a finger in the pot and watering as needed.

Are winter pansies different to summer pansies?

The difference between winter pansies and summer varieties is that winter breeds are hardier to ensure they survive the colder conditions.

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12 best plants to bring colour to a winter garden

1. Harry Hotspur (Primula Auricula)

These beautiful Primulas are semi-evergreen and will withstand the worst of the winter before blooming brightly at the start of the new year.


2. Winter-Flowering Heather (Calluna Vulgaris)

Found naturally in moorland, Winter-Flowering Heather is great in pots or bedding, can live for several years and will add pinks, purples and whites to drab winter gardens.


3. Sow Bread (Cyclamen Hederifolium)

The ivy-leaved version is the hardiest Cyclamen species and will thrive throughout a cold British winter with beautiful flowers.


4. Christmas Rose (Helleborus Niger)

A evergreen and long-lasting buttercup, the Christmas Rose has all the beauty of a wild white rose but is much more robust when the weather worsens.


5. Firebird (Flax Lily – Phormium)

‘Firebird’ Flax Lilies are another evergreen perennial that retain their strong leathery leaves and distinctive colours throughout the year in a range of soils.


6. Elephant’s Ears (Claire Maxine – Bergenia)

Rhizomatous ‘Elephant’s Ears’ Bergenia, also known as Claire Maxine, will bulk out garden bedding with drooping red foliage during the colder months.


7. Tsatsumi Gold (Hinoki Cypress – Chamaecyparis Obtusa)

Coniferous Tsatsumi Gold shrubs can bring lovely, subtle yellow-golden hues all the way from their native Japan to dull winter gardens in Britain.

8. Witch Hazel (Wisley Supreme – Hamamelis Mollis)

Distinctive yellow to red Witch Hazel is a fragrant and textured shrub that will flower during the winter in all British gardens.


9. Korean Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis Brachytricha)

This far-Eastern feather grass will bring unique silver tones to make outdoor spaces stand out against the neighbours.


10. Common Sage (Tricolor – Saliva Officinalis)

The common Tricolour Sage is a versatile evergreen shrub that can liven up British backyards this winter with grey-green leaves and purple flowers.


11. Grand Prix (Camellia Japonica)

The Camellia is another Asian winter hero – a dynamic shrub with bright flowers that jump out from its leathery leaves, it’s also known as the Rose of Winter.


12. Angelina (Sedum Rupestre)

Clusters of little yellow flowers on the evergreen Angelina will sprout either side of the height of winter, in any soil that isn’t sodden.


Pansy Winter Care: Tips For Growing Pansies In Winter

They’re the quintessential cool weather flower, so can you grow pansies in winter? The answer is that it depends on where you live. Gardens in zones 7-9 may get some cold winter weather, but these little flowers are hardy and can persist through cold spells and add color to winter beds.

Growing Pansies in Winter

Whether or not you can successfully grow pansies outdoors in winter depends on your climate and winter temperatures. Areas much further north than zone 6 are tricky and may have winter weather that kills pansies.

When the temperature gets down to about 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 Celsius), flowers and foliage will begin to wilt, or even freeze. If the cold snap doesn’t last too long, and if the plants are established, they’ll come back and give you more blooms.

Pansy Winter Care

Ensuring that your pansies will persist throughout the winter, you need to provide good care and plant them at the right time. Established plants are better able to survive.

Pansy cold tolerance starts at the roots, and they need to be planted in soil that is between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (7 and 18 Celsius). Plant your winter pansies at the end of September in zones 6 and 7a, in early October for zone 7b, and the end of October in zone 8.

Pansies will also need extra fertilizer in the winter. Use a liquid fertilizer, as it will be more difficult for the plants to take up nutrients from granular fertilizers in the winter. You can use a formula specific for pansies and apply it every few weeks throughout the season.

Winter rains can prove to be damaging to pansies, causing root rot. Use raised beds where possible to prevent standing water.

Keep weeds at bay by pulling them and by using mulch around the pansies. To get more flowers out of the winter season, trim off dead blooms. This forces the plants to put more energy into producing flowers instead of producing seeds.

Pansy Cold Protection

If you do get an unusual cold snap, like 20 degrees (-6.7 Celsius), for a few days or longer, you can protect the plants to prevent them from freezing and dying. The simplest way to do this is to pile on a couple inches of pine straw to trap in the heat. As soon as the cold weather is over, rake off the straw.

As long as you provide your pansies with good winter care, and you don’t have weather that is too cold, you can successfully grow these cheerful flowers throughout the winter as you wait for spring to arrive.

Solved! 8 Flowers Sure to Bloom in Winter


Q: I’m dreading the coming winter months because my yard always looks so bare and brown when all the summer blooming plants die or go dormant. Are there any flowers that bloom in the winter? Or, am I stuck with a drab landscape until the temperatures warm up next spring?

A: Great news! Cold weather actually brings out the best in some plants. At the first hint of frost, when most flowering plants wither, the following eight varieties are just getting started. You don’t have to put up with another drab winter. Add a welcome touch of color to your window boxes and flower beds by planting one or more of these colorful winter flowers.

Just note: When choosing plants for your yard, always consult the United States Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone map to determine which ones will grow the best in your specific region.


Line your walkways with bright Winter Pansies. Like their summer-flowering cousins (regular pansies), Winter Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana)—also known as “ice pansies”—will delight homeowners and holiday guests with their colorful 1-inch blossoms borne on low-growing plants. They thrive in zones 6 through 9 and can survive temperatures that dip into the teens. Winter Pansies, which are perennial (meaning they live more than two years), can start blooming as early as December.

Available in a range of yellows, reds, blues, and oranges, these winter flowers are well-suited to window boxes or paired with early spring-blooming bulbs in the flowerbed. They grow well in full sun to full shade and in most types of soils. They can fall prey to garden slugs, however, so if you notice that something has been eating the leaves, apply a commercial slug repellant or sprinkle used coffee grounds around the base of the plant. (You can read up on five other ideas for getting rid of slugs here.)


Ornamental Kale is for its looks only—no eating! For striking color on ruffled rosette heads (some exceeding 8 inches in width!), it’s hard to beat Ornamental Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala). Related to edible kale, this hybrid loves cold temperatures and develops snow white, brilliant pink, deep rose, and clear violet hues after the first frost arrives. Grown as an annual, Ornamental Kale must be replanted every year, and while it grows in zones 2 through 11, in the warmest zones it will not develop the richest colors.

Ornamental Kale grows best in well-drained soil that’s been enriched by organic matter. It prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade. The plants reach up to 18 inches in height and look best planted in groups of three or more, where their remarkable colors can create a focal point in the landscape. For the best results, start Ornamental Kale from seed in the flowerbed or in pots in mid-summer. Alternately, purchase plants from your local garden center for transplanting in the fall.


If you can’t wait for spring bulbs to sprout, grow Chinese Fringe Flower. This winter-blooming evergreen starts flowering as early as February in zones 7 through 10. If left untrimmed, Chinese Fringe Flower (Loropetalum chinense) grows to a height of 5 to 8 feet, with a spread of 3 feet. It makes an excellent single specimen plant, but can also double as a privacy border when the shrubs are planted 2 to 3 feet apart. Its leaves, which remain on the shrub all winter, start out with a hint of burgundy but eventually turn a deep green. Its flowers hang in delicate ruffles, giving the shrub a fringed appearance. Most Chinese Fringe cultivars have white flowers, but one cultivar, Razzleberri, produces dense pinkish-red winter flowers.

Chinese Fringe Flower grows best in partial sun and well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter, and it will provide years of colorful winter flowers without requiring a lot of care. Chinese Fringe Flower tolerates dry soil and will benefit from a spring feeding of all-purpose fertilizer. Yearly mulching with compost, or other organic mulch, around its base will help it produce lush foliage and abundant flowers.


Plant a few Snowdrops in late fall and watch for them to pop up through a blanket of snow. Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalus) can bloom as early as January in zones 3 through 8. These early bloomers, with their delicate bowed heads and pearl-colored oval petals surrounding a green-tipped center, are the perfect remedy for cabin fever. Snowdrops are low-growers, developing 2- to 3-inch mounds of foliage with blooms that rise only a couple of inches higher.

Plant Snowdrops in late fall in well-drained soil that’s enriched by the addition of compost or peat moss. These winter flowers prefer full shade to partial shade. Each bulb grows into a small mound and spreads a little every year as new bulbs develop underground. Snowdrops are well suited to woodland borders, but they also add a welcoming touch to outdoor pots and raised flowerbeds. They don’t need a lot of fertilizer but may benefit from a light application of all-purpose flower fertilizer in fall.


True to its name, Christmas Rose can bloom outdoors as early as late December. Christmas Rose (Helleborus nigra) is a moderately slow-growing evergreen that reaches a mature height of about 1.5 feet tall and produces snowy white, cup-shaped blooms (up to 3 inches across) that eventually turn a dusty shade of rose. It grows well in zones 3 through 8.

Christmas Rose will bloom winter after winter with very little care, but it does not like to be disturbed—for the best results, plant it and then don’t move it. Select a location with well-drained soil and partial-to-full shade. Plant it under trees and taller shrubs, and you’ll be enjoying its winter flowers long before crocuses emerge from their wintry beds. Christmas Rose may not bloom the first or even the second year it’s planted, so plant these cold-weather beauties knowing that they’ll bloom in a couple of years. Their eye-catching flowers are definitely worth waiting for.


Winter-blooming Camellia is a show-stopper in the landscape. Sometimes called the “queen of winter flowers,” Winter-blooming Camellia (Camellia japonica) is a favorite in the South. In fact, it’s Alabama’s state flower, but it also does well throughout zones 7 through 10. This evergreen shrub produces large blooms (up to 5 inches across) in blush pink, burgundy, and blood-red hues, providing a colorful contrast against a blanket of snow. Choose from a variety of Camellia cultivars, including “Bob Hope,” “Australis,” and “Pink Icicle,” all of which provide brightly colored blossoms in the dead of winter.

Winter-blooming Camellia does best in full-shade to partial-shade and requires protection from scorching sun and strong winds. Depending on the cultivar, winter-blooming camellia will reach a height of 4 to 10 feet, and a spread of 4 to 8 feet, making it well-suited to shady borders. Plant Winter-blooming Camellia on the north side of a house or a tall fence, or under a shade tree. This flowering shrub requires little maintenance once established.

Photo: via Wendy Cutler

Winter Sun Mahonia starts blooming in December! Also known as “Oregon Grapeholly,” Winter Sun Mahonia, (Mahonia x media), is a glossy-leafed evergreen with thick leathery leaves and bright yellow flower spikes that appear in vertical sprays. It grows well in zones 7 through 9, reaching a mature height of 6 to 8 feet with a spread of 4 to 5 feet. Its striking winter flowers are followed in spring by bright blue fruits that attract a variety of songbirds.

Plant Winter Sun Mahonia where it will receive no more than 2 to 3 hours of morning sunlight. It loves a shady location and prefers rich, well-drained soil. This evergreen’s freeform arcing branches give it a woodland appeal, making it well-suited for planting beneath taller trees in a casual wooded border. It self-sows and can spread to other areas of the landscape so give it plenty of space.


For a splash of sunny color when everything else is drab and gray, add Winter Aconite to your landscape. Feathery green foliage and bright yellow flowers emerge in early February to mid-March, making Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) one of the earliest bloomers in zones 3 through 8. The entire plant reaches no more than 6 inches high, making it a good choice for rock gardens, pathways, and around the bases of trees and shrubs.

Winter Aconite grows from small bulbs planted in mid-to-late fall after the soil has cooled. This easy-care plant thrives in most soil types and withstands drought conditions. It doesn’t tolerate transplanting, however, so choose its location carefully, and it will provide you with years of delightful yellow winter flowers.

How Extreme Cold Affects Pansies, Violas, Cabbage and Kale

Pansies and Violas are hardy plants and will survive a frost—and even a hard freeze—for a period of time. Depending on how hard the frost was, flowers that were blooming may wither, but the plants will stay alive. The future buds are protected down in the crown of the foliage, and will emerge when air temperatures rise again.

When temps fall below 10 degrees for several hours, this is extreme cold for Pansies and Violas. The roots cannot absorb water from the frozen soil. This is usually most apparent in shady beds and northern exposure settings. Frozen soil and drying winds can kill the plants, even though the plants were healthy prior to that. Snow cover actually helps the pansy beds, as it insulates and protects from wind.

The Triad has seen some of its coldest weather in many years. Your Pansy or Viola beds may indeed suffer more damage this winter than in past years because of this fact. You can help the surviving plants by fertilizing lightly once temperatures begin to warm in late February and early March.

Ornamental cabbage and kales were also hit by the excessive cold this year. While they also are fairly hardy, and in most years will provide needed color and texture in winter months, this latest blast of cold probably killed most of them in the area. If your cabbage or kale have turned a light tan color, they should be pulled out and disposed of.

Q: Can you give me some information on pansies and how they stay alive during the freezing weather? Do they have plant anti-freeze in them? Does the water go down to the roots at night?

A: Pansies are members of the Viola family. They are kissing cousins to the wild violets that lawn lovers find so difficult to conquer. Violas and violets have been cultivated for hundreds of years, both for their flowers and for the perfume they produce. Our hybrid garden pansies, Viola x wittrockiana, are annual flowers but all other violas are perennial.

Pansies protect themselves by allowing moisture to escape their leaves as temperatures fall. Other plants cannot do this, so when the temperature goes below freezing the water in their cells freezes and ruptures the cell walls. That’s what happens when you leave a houseplant on the patio during a freeze. Dry cells, though, can’t rupture. They just go limp. It is normal to see pansy leaves completely wilted at dawn but green and perky by noon. That’s why it is important to keep the soil in pansy beds moist after a freeze…. so their roots can re-hydrate the leaves.

Other plants also protect themselves in this manner. My neighbor’s southern magnolia looks pretty droopy after a hard freeze but after a few hours of sunshine the leaves regain their green glossiness. Old time gardeners even say that the taste of turnip greens improves after a frost, due to its efforts to protect itself from the cold.

Tags For This Article: pansy, wilting, Winter

Cold weather looms: Get your garlic and pansies

Editor’s Note: Meet Mike on Oct. 4 and 5 in Leesburg. Mike will appear at the Leesburg Home Expo at the Douglass Community Center, 405 East Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia. He will be there 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and 12 p.m. Sunday. Details: Leesburg Home Expo.

Don’t grow garlic in a potato box

Wendy in Rockville writes: “I tried a suggestion from one of your articles and planted potatoes in a layered, slatted compost bin, arranged so that the potato greens grew out the sides of the bin and the tubers formed inside. Do you think I could plant my garlic the same way, as long as I position the individual cloves with the tips facing the sides of the bin?”

No, Wendy. Potatoes can be tricked into growing sideways, but garlic cannot. Your cloves would try and grow straight up — but not for very long. The first sustained hard freeze would kill them in such an above-ground enclosure. Your potato success was in summer. In winter, plants need their roots in the ground, not high above it.

Use the bin to make compost and get your garlic in the ground.

Get your garlic in the ground

Thanks for the opening, Wendy — garlic is one of my personal favorite things to grow.

First, get some good planting garlic from a reputable seed supplier or buy locally grown bulbs at a farmer’s market. Don’t use store-bought garlic. It’s probably the wrong kind for our region and treated not to sprout. And a lot of California garlic is actually coming from China these days.

Carefully separate out the cloves and plant each individual clove (bottom down, pointy end up) 6 inches deep and 6 inches apart in your richest, loosest, best draining soil. Raised beds are ideal for garlic growing; poorly draining flat earth is not.

Wait until the leaves begin to fall and then cover the bed with 2 inches of well-shredded leaves. Don’t use whole leaves as they mat down like a tarp. And no nasty wood mulch.

Then just kick back and relax. The garlic may sprout this year, or it may wait until spring. Either way, you don’t have to do anything until the scapes form at the top of the plants in June.

Pansies: The superior fall flower

Enough with the mums already. It looks like there was an explosion in the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland.

My much preferred cool-weather loving color for fall is provided by pansies. Buy a flat of these bright little beauties and plant them — yes, right in the ground — where you’ll see them every day. Pansies thrive in cool weather, and will bloom for you without any assistance or protection until at least the holidays.

Then, prune entire branches off of a discarded Christmas tree and keep those big boughs at hand to cover the pansies if heavy snow or ice is predicted. Cold weather won’t hurt them, but they can be flattened out by heavy ice — as can we.

Remove the protection after each weather event and enjoy the blooms though spring.

Eat your pansies and get great looking legs

In our last thrilling episode we explained that mums aren’t the only blooming plant that lives outside in the fall. Bedding plant pansies are even more cold hardy, a lot more graceful (the mum is not a subtle plant) and the colorful flowers are edible.

That’s right — a handful of pansy flowers can make 50 cents worth of lettuce look like a million bucks. And not only are they edible, pansy flowers are our only real source of rutin — a nutrient that strengthens our capillary walls.

Now, having stronger capillaries helps with minor-league stuff like blood pressure, heart health, blah, blah, blah — but rutin’s important benefit is that it lessens the visibility of spider and varicose veins. That’s right — eat pansy flowers all winter and look better in short-shorts next summer.

Five flowers a day (try them on top of salads — you’ll never go back) provides the recommended amount of the nutrient rutin to get your veins looking more opaque.

Note: To be safe, pull all of the existing flowers off of your plants when you get them home, as they may have been sprayed at the garden center. Don’t worry — the next run will appear quickly and you’ll have a steady supply for months to come.

Lawn care 101: Aerate first, then seedbed, then the seed

“Frequent Garden Plot Flyer” Connor in Fairfax has a question that’s common for this time of year. He writes: “I’m getting ready to aerate and over-seed my lawn — and I’m getting my truck loaded with compost tomorrow. Should I apply the compost before or after aerating?”

Core aeration — pulling little plugs out of the soil to relieve compaction and improve drainage — should be first on any fall lawn care list.

Then — because you’re seeding — rake off the cores and pile them up somewhere to compost down.

Then, spread your load of compost evenly across the lawn, sow matching seed directly into the compost and just rake it in; no straw or other nonsense.

Water gently every morning until the seed is up, wait until the grass is a good four and a half inches before you cut it back to three and it should look great.

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