Different types of pansies


Best Selling Pansy Colors

Pansy ‘Matrix Yellow’ lays down a heavy coat of color

Pansies are powerful tools we use to paint the early spring landscape. Like a good paint, they are durable in the cold, stand up to harsh weather, keep their color for a long time, and—most importantly—keep costs under control. Pansies are unmatched when it comes to value per square foot—they deliver dense strokes of color at an affordable price and that’s important when there’s a lot of ground to cover. So, what color should you apply? Strong color trends and preferences exist inside the category and we look at them today.

Pansy ‘Panola Beaconsfield’ is our favorite intriguing color

Also important is the range of colors and styles available in the Pansy genre, from the simple to the complex. Our large collection includes a number of different styles encompassing blotch, jewel tones, graduated colors, whiskered, and jump up types. In addition, we have some fancy blooms with shades that melt into one another or jump from flower to flower.

Pansy ‘Delta Premium Pure Yellow’ is the Pepsi to ‘Matrix Yellow’

The most popular color, yellow, is the obvious one. Yellow works well because it is such a strong beacon. The color contrasts highly against the dark green foliage, so the yellow transmits both far and fast. Cars notice it and people notice it—there is nothing shy about this choice. Clients feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth when they walk past it.

‘Matrix Yellow’ has long been the traditional American choice for landscapes because of its nice big round yellow flowers with no faces to impede the vibrant color. It is devoid of reversion problems and has a nice tuft of plant underneath. For years this variety has been the default for many early spring landscapes and the yardstick by which other Pansies have been measured. Its direct competitor is ‘Delta Premium Pure Yellow’. For a slightly different look, ‘Delta Premium Yellow Blotch’ adds the classic Pansy face to the color.

Matrix Amber Mix is our best-selling yellow Pansy mix

After yellow comes the mixes. We’ve already discussed the surge in mixes over the last few years and Pansies are included in that groundswell. For efficiency and convenience, it’s hard to beat a mix. One of our top sellers is Matrix Amber Mix, which blends orange, yellow, and cream shades together for a dappled look that is still a strong beacon of color. Another top seller is Majestic Giant II Formula Mix with a combination of bright festive colors that have smiling blotched faces.

Pansy ‘Matrix Ocean’ is neither dark nor light—it’s a mid-lavender

Cool tones like blues and purples follow the yellows and mixes.

We are personally fond of the clean, clear colors of ‘Delta Premium True Blue’—a real blue in our book. We also like the dramatic ‘Matrix Purple’, so dark that it is nearly black, and ‘Crown Azure’ for its light blue-lavender shade. We use the classic solids to block out color stripes within designs, alternating them with vibrant yellow. This technique does a good job of showcasing the contours of the landscape.

Among the Pansy faces ‘Matrix Ocean’ is a good choice for close-up gardens, as a specimen, or combined with a vine basket or some charming pottery. The flowers are large and the petals have a subtle texture that reward more intimate settings.

Pansy ‘Matrix Rose Blotch’ sometimes has a face and sometimes doesn’t

Surprisingly, reds and oranges come in behind those cool tones. Yellow certainly steals their thunder, but we see genuine finds within these shades. The face comes and goes among the blossoms of ‘Matrix Rose Blotch’, whereas the color just skips around the blooms of ‘Delta Fire’. Technically ‘Delta Fire’ is a tri-color Pansy but the colors move around so much that people mistake it for a mix. This look is especially effective in mass plantings.

Among the clear Pansies ‘Matrix Deep Orange’ is used for its vibrant colors and ‘Delta Pure Red’ for its deep, deep red. For intimate settings ‘Matrix Sunrise’ delivers the most sophisticated rewards.

Pansy ‘Delta Fire’ is the snowflake of the fire colors—no two blossoms are alike

One of the reasons we respect the Pansy so much is that it works equally well in both fast- and slow-viewing gardens. We use the solids to paint big stripes or blocks across the landscape, and they shoot out a bright beam that can be seen from any distance by passing motorists. At the same time we can turn around and set up a charming Spring Basket with tints that play off their companions. In little corners or tiny spaces, a Pansy can scale down and whisper its charms. We don’t know very many genera that have this ability. This is why we believe every designer, novice or experienced, should have Pansies loaded into their toolbox of solutions.

Pansy ‘Delta Premium True Blue’ really comes out blue

Our Pansies are available in the following sizes: 1801L flat; 1203 flat; 306 basket; 6-inch pot; 8-inch pot, and 10-inch color bowl. Spreading Pansies come in the 6-inch and 8-inch pot sizes and the 10-inch hanging basket.

‘Delta Premium Yellow Blotch’ is the classic childhood Pansy

For a complete listing of our current Pansy line and sizes please refer to the Availability section of our web site.

Top 5 Annuals for the Southeast

­Pansies may look delicate but they are the most popular hardy flowers planted and grown in Georgia, according to The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The pansy is a dependable flower that can bloom in the fall and winter in the Southeast region.

The neat thing about pansies is that the diversity in their petal color is quite large. First of all, the flower can be either a single color, ­or two to three colors with a face. The variety of colors include black, purple, lavender, blue, yellow, bronze, apricot, orange, maho­gany, red and white.


A pansy has five rounded petals and comes in three different bloom sizes or categories, including large, medium and multiflora. Large blooms are 3 to 4 inches (9 to 11.5 cm), medium blooms are 2 to 3 inches (6 to 9 cm) and multiflora blooms are 1 to 2 inches (4 to 6 cm). There are several varieties within each category of pansy that might be good to research if you are looking for certain sizes, colors or other characteristics. Multiflora pansies are recommended most for landscaping .

When you are planning your garden, you should realize that the pansy plant is not very large i­n general. The height and width of the pansy plant does not exceed 9 inches (22.9 cm). As part of the plant, there are oval or heart-shaped leaves attached to the many green stems.

Scent or odor might be another factor when you are considering what will match your garden well. The pansy does not emit an odor constantly throughout the day, but its perfume is best detected at dawn and nightfall. Another point to keep in mind is that not all pansies have a similar, strong fragrance. The blue and yellow pansy flowers are recommended the most if you are looking for a scented flower. Your best bet at getting a pleasant fragrance is if you grow many plants together, rather than spreading them out .

Pansies are popular garden flowers that will look beautiful in both garden beds and containers. These round flowers produce colors from pink to white.

Pansies belong to the Viola family and have 500 species. Its name comes from the French word pensee which translates to thought or remembrance. In the language of flowers, pansies symbolize thoughts of lovers. They were also often used in love potions especially during the 19th century when these flowers were most popular.

Pansies are one of the oldest flowers cultivated and are often used in medicine, creating dyes and making food. Their fragrance also means they’re often used in potpourri. They have a delicate scent which are most evident during the early morning and dusk. The yellow and blue pansies are the most fragrant.


Alba Minor Pansy

All-white in color, this beautiful pansy withstands both heat and cold better than a lot of other flowers do.

Black Accord Pansy

Deep-black in color, these pansies have a bright yellow center and give any garden an elegant look. If you want a contrasting garden, plant them with flowers that are chartreuse in color, or alongside yellow or white pansies.

Blue Mood Pansy

This type of pansy is white with purple markings and has a beautiful yellow-gold center. Also known as the Cool Wave Violet Wing, their colors can intensify your fall garden like few other flowers can. They can grow up to eight inches high and 30 inches wide, so they are quite noticeable.

Bowles Black Pansy

A deep purple color and with bright yellow centers, this type of pansy looks great in containers and creeping off rocks as an accent.

Chalon Supreme Pansy

This pansy has ruffled petals in deep purple with white trim around them and yellow centers. They are romantic-looking and perfect for cottage gardens. Although they grow just like other pansies, sometimes only the larger nurseries have them available.

Cool Wave Blueberry Swirl Pansy

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The petals on this type of pansy are white with lavender trim or solid yellow in color, and they can tolerate cold weather well. They are delicate-looking and bounce back in the winter even in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. If you fertilize them every two weeks, they are especially productive and will produce massive amounts of blooms.

Cool Wave Morpho Pansy

Lilac and gold petals create a very eye-catching look, and these flowers look great in containers or hanging baskets, in part because they handle cold weather well and because of the number of blossoms that are included on each stem.

Cool Wave White Pansy

A cold-tolerant flower, it boasts a pure white color and looks great in hanging baskets, particularly if you pair them with a bright red flower. They are perfect for winter holiday blooming baskets.

Delta Marina Pansy

A sturdy flower that remains upright on its stems, many descriptions claim they are blue, but they are really a purplish-lavender, and they have striking dark centers. Even after spring rains, the petals stay upright and remain eye-catching, never drooping into the soil just because of a hard rain.

Delta Rose Surprise Pansy

With just one six-pack of plants, you get a mixture of pansies in colors such as creamy yellow, white, purple, and rose with picotee edging that looks great with the deep violet blotches in the center.

Dynamite Blotch Pansy

A striking plant, it has petals of black trimmed with a wide blotch of bright orange-red and yellow centers. It is striking and eye-catching, and it can grow well into the winter in certain parts of the West.

Etain Viola

A type of pansy, despite its name, this flower is white and yellow and has a beautiful lavender trim. It blooms from spring to fall and looks great alongside other perennials.

Freefall Purple Wing Pansy

These pansies are bright yellow and have deep purple stripes, and because they are sturdy, they grow almost all year long in coastal climates and from spring to summer in other areas.

Frosted Chocolate Pansy

These pansies have petals that are caramel in color with yellow markings towards the center and a very subtle white trim. They grow up to five feet tall and are, in fact, edible.

Inspire Deluxxe Mulberry Mix

With petals that are more than three inches wide, their colors include burgundy with black centers, purple with black centers, and white with purple centers. They are perfect for hanging baskets and containers.

Inspire Plus Mardi Gras Mix

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Perfect for hanging baskets or large containers, these pansies have large blooms of purple or gold, and their “faces” stand out and make you notice them every time.

Jolly Joker Pansy

With bright orange petals or bright purple petals, these bright, cheery flowers have won several international flower awards and are a favorite among pansy-lovers.

Matrix Solar Flare Pansy

This pansy is bright orange and yellow with markings of dark brown in the petals. They were created to withstand warmer temperatures so they never flop, sag, or bolt if it is warm outside.

Molly Sanderson Pansy

Deep black in color with white and purple centers, they originated from the U.K. and thrive in partial shade. They also do well as a perennial, as long as you protect them from frost.

Nature Orange Pansy

You can brighten up any rainy day with these beautiful pansies, which have petals of bright orange with yellow centers. They look best when planted at eye level so that you can see them better, so try them in hanging baskets or window boxes.

Nature Rose Picotee Pansy

With violet petals, black markings near the yellow center, and white trim all around them, these pansies tolerate heat better than some other pansies. This means they are perfect for plantings in late spring or early fall.

Tiger Eyes Pansy

These pansies are bright yellow-gold and have burgundy stripes, and they are very artsy in nature. Low-growing, the pansies are both edible and very fragrant.

Whopping Purple Whiskers Pansy

Like its name suggests, this pansy has white petals with bright purple stripes and a beautiful purple trim, along with yellow-gold centers that really bring out the flower. The stems are short, the pansies can be almost three inches in width, and they are also edible.

WonderFall Pansy

With dark blue and light blue petals and a bright yellow center, these pansies have a waterfall-like characteristic, spilling over the edges of containers and hanging baskets. They are also economical because there are more flowers on each plant than other types of pansies, and they spread three times further than those pansies

Fun Facts about Pansies

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  • Most pansies grow 8-10 inches high and have petals that look like they have faces on them.
  • The name comes from the French word for remembrance or thought.
  • The pansy was used often in various “love” potions in the 1800s.
  • You can use pansy petals in potpourri.
  • The pansies with the strongest scents seem to be the ones that are blue or yellow in color.
  • Pansies are edible, and many people add them to their salads, soups, and even their desserts.
  • They have a fresh, minty flavor, and they are high in Vitamins C and A.
  • The petal itself can be used as a natural dye.
  • Pansies are one of the oldest flowers ever cultivated in history.

Medicinal Uses of the Pansy Flower

The list of known nutrients in pansies includes the following:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Carotenoids
  • Salicylic acid
  • Cyclotides
  • Mucilage
  • Viola-quercetin
  • Tannin
  • Saponins

The Medicinal benefits include anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and being able to treat the following conditions:

  • Skin conditions such as eczema and scabs
  • Respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, whooping cough, and asthma
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart pain
  • Joint pain such as arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diaper rash and other rashes
  • Hives
  • Retinal hemorrhages
  • Excessive bruising
  • Chest congestion
  • Convulsions
  • Jaundice
  • Hysteria or other emotional outbreaks
  • Epilepsy
  • Certain tumors for cancers such as breast, lungs, and stomach
  • Strengthening contractions and inducing labor
  • Bladder infections
  • Healthy scalp and hair
  • Urinary tract conditions

How to prepare and use the pansy flower:

  • Infusion method: Add 1-2 tsp. of the plant (flowers) in ½ cup of boiling water, then remove from heat and let steep for 10-15 minutes. Take it by mouth throughout the day, one mouthful at a time. Only drink up to 1 cup per day.
  • Extract method: Place 2-4 tsp. of the plant in 1 cup of cold water for 8 hours. When the 8 hours are up, take one mouthful at a time throughout the day.

Words of caution

  • The side effects of pansies have not been thoroughly studied; however, experts do know that if taken in high doses, the flower can be toxic, which is why most recommendations include consuming no more than one cup per day. Interactions with other medications also haven’t been studied, and long-term use can be detrimental, even if you are consuming the proper daily amounts. If you start having skin problems after using pansy for a while, it is best to stop taking it. Although pansies are mainly effective in the treatment of respiratory, urinary, and skin conditions, they are still being studied for their other benefits and uses, and doing your due diligence by studying various online publications is always highly recommended.
  • As with any other herb or natural remedy, you should be checked out thoroughly by a physician before using pansies for any type of physical or emotional ailment. When taken as recommended, pansies are quite safe, but since so few studies have been conducted about side effects and dangerous interactions, it is best to share all of your medications and health issues with your doctor before trying to use pansies for any condition. If you purchase a product – for example, a skincare item – that has pansy in it, there is no need for concern, but if you are planning to make it yourself, it is always best to use caution and run everything past your doctor before participating in this activity.
  • When you make anything with pansy in it, make sure the flowers are in full bloom and that they haven’t been sprayed with any chemicals. A few other rules include the following:
    • Only use flowers that are fully open.
    • Don’t choose the flowers if they are under- or over-ripe, just like when you choose fruit.
    • The day after the dew has dried, first thing in the morning, is the best time to pick the pansy flowers. The flowers have more water in the mornings and are less likely to stick together.
    • Don’t store the flowers in a plastic bag, but only in a large plastic container. Place a moist paper towel on the bottom of the container before placing the flowers there.
    • Remove all insects or dirt from the flowers before using them.
    • Use the petals only, and not the pistils or stamens.

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Tags: Flowers Categories: Gardens and Landscaping

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Pansies were my mother’s favorite flowers. Every year I watched her as she planned the best time to plant these special flowers, and every time they bloomed, we shared her genuine happiness.

Pansies bloom in the cold season when most flowers shy away from the harsh weather. It’s a proud plant holding its flowers high and flaunting a multitude of colors.

Let’s take a closer look at some of its amazing varieties and see when is the best time to enjoy them.

Delta Speedy Purple

The Delta Speedy Purple pansies are deep purple with a faint blotch. They’re annuals that bloom late fall through winter in the south and west, and early spring in the north, Zone 7-10. This variety has masses of large upward-facing blooms, reaching a height of 6-8”. They are very tolerant of harsh weather, and they have a continuing flower capacity even under low light.

Delta Premium Blue Morpho

The Delta Premium Blue Morpho annuals have deep blue tones at the fringes of the petals, with pure white, yellow, and navy blue morphing streaks. It’s mesmerizing to look at, and a pleasure when it blooms.

It’s quite tolerant to all weather conditions, typically zone 7-10, and it’s one of the few pansies that bloom in the warmer weather. They’re 4-6” high so they would look lovely as garden edging.

Cool Wave Morpho

These Cool Wave Morpho pansies are long-lasting and retain their bright pastel blue and yellow bloom throughout the spring and fall seasons. They’re easy to care for and hold up well in rain and adverse weather.

They have a spreading habit that cascades over pots up to as much as 30”. They can be planted as a spiller, or as a dramatic groundcover.

Heat Elite Scarlet Shades

The Heat Elite Scarlet Shades pansies have large flowers and short stems. They are velvety red with dark veins, which makes them truly warm and classy.

They are compact as they grow, but they branch generously. They maintain their shape and bloom proudly throughout the season, even when the light isn’t abundant.

Wonderfall Yellow with Red Wing

Wonderfall Yellow With Red Wing pansies are bicolor with vibrant yellow and red tones, this flower blooms in the spring and fall, it’s good over zone 7-10 like most pansies.

It has a trailing habit, and it vigorously spreads in the garden than regular pansies. It reaches a height of 8-10”, more so with exposure to the sun.

Colossus Yellow with Blotch

The Colossus Yellow with Blotch Pansies have extra-large blooms and extra-high tolerance for heat and humidity. They are also zone 7-10, flowering in spring, late spring, summer, and fall.

They’re not too tall, with a cute height of 4-5”. They look lovely in flower beds or as balcony potted plants, and the sun would actually do them good.

Mammoth Glamarama White

The Mammoth Glamarama white pansy with a blotch is even bigger than the colossus, so it can easily fill a larger pot with its size and vigor. It can take a little more heat without becoming stressed, and it adapts nicely to different growing regimes. It blooms from spring till fall, going briefly through the summer. It’s not too tall with a height of 4-5”, and besides being great potted, it will look amazing in your entrance and front yard.

Frizzle Sizzle Raspberry

The Frizzle Sizzle Raspberry Pansy ruffled pink flowers are spectacular, and they look their best in containers or in scenic flower beds. They exhibit their ruffling the most in cool weather, so plant them in the fall for best results. They have a medium height of 6-9” and a full 3” bloom.

Inspire Purple with Orange

The Inspire Purple with orange are large, proud, upward-facing purple and orange pansy flowers. They do inspire all this and also resilience. They can stand the heat and north winters, they wouldn’t stretch, and they’ll bloom throughout the season.

They’re compact plants that grow to 5-6”, they adapt well, and show their strength under all conditions.

Halloween II

The Halloween II variety are unique pure black pansies. These winter-hardy plants can be tall with 8-12” height, they are usually well-branched and heavy blooming.

Plant their seeds in cell packs or flats, press them into the soil barely covered. They need darkness to germinate, so cover them and keep their temperature around 65-70 degrees, and then transplant them into the garden after 14-21 days.

Tiger Eye Red

The Tiger Eye Red Pansy is a wildly exciting print and shade. These pansies are early flowering, with a developed habit, moderate height, and a high tolerance for growing beside other varieties. They are guaranteed to brighten up the winter season, and especially around Halloween.

Pansy Ultima Morpho

The Pansy Ultima Morpho is an award-winning variety for a good reason. Its 2-½” flowers are upward-facing and it’s highly floriferous.

The Morpho is characterized by a unique color pattern, where bright pastel blue merges into a yellow center. It’s well suited for spring and fall planting, where it will look great in a pot or handsomely decorating the garden.

Pansy Cool Wave Sunshine ‘n Wine

The Pansy Cool Wave Sunshine ‘n Wine yellow flowers have a deep maroon color seeping into the petals and drawing little whiskers around the middle. This color blast will survive the harsh weather and bloom nicely in the spring and fall seasons.

Pansy Desiderio Tricolor Orchid

The white of these Pansy Desiderio Tricolor Orchid petals contrasts sharply with the pink shades, and it’s all complemented by the slight ruffling in the edges. It has a compact plan habit, it’s tall with 8” of growth, and it blooms in the early spring and fall seasons.

Freefall XL Victoriana

Freefall XL Victoriana has a rich purple and pure white color mix, and as they contrast, they also make the distinct happy face marking unique to pansies. It has a remarkably quick flowering time, and a non-tangling habit. It’s 4-6” high with large flowers, which makes it perfect for hanging baskets and scenic arrangements.

Horned Pansy Angel Amber Kiss

The Horned Pansy Angel Amber Kiss golden-orange-brown color blast of this flower makes it spectacular in path edgings, containers, and front lawn flower beds. It’s a biennial plant that flowers nicely April-July.

Adonis Pansy

The Adonis Pansy is a majestically large flower with a lovely blue and white color combinations. It has a height of 6-8”, and it blooms from May to September. They are well-suited for containers, hanging baskets, flower beds, and borders.


Common names: Heartsease, Johnny-jump-up, Love-in-idleness

Pansies are beautiful garden flowers that are usually grown as annuals, although they are technically biennials. They are a member of the genus Viola, making them closely related to violets. The most popular pansy purchased at garden centers each spring is Viola × wittrockiana, a hybrid form with many cultivars. Pansies are cultivated in a wide range of colors, ranging from gold and orange to purple, violet, and blue. Some pansies have bi-colored petals that are reminiscent of faces. The flowers are about two to three inches (about 6 cm) in diameter.


Pansies are grown as edging plants, bedding plants, or container plants. Steps edged with pots of blooming pansies give visitors a cheerful welcome!

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Violales
Family: Violaceae
Genus: Viola
Species: Viola tricolor
Subspecies: Viola tricolor hortensis; Viola x wittrockiana

Growing Pansies

Pansies are easy to grow! They will survive frosts and light freezes or a little snow, so they can be planted out very early in the spring for early color in the garden. They can also be set out in the fall, and in relatively mild climates will bloom all winter. Regular deadheading will encourage a longer bloom period. They dislike heat, but may bloom through cool summers if they’re planted in light shade and kept moist. If the plants get leggy, they can be cut back to encourage another bloom period. Flowers are larger if the plant is regularly fertilized. Generally, pansies will not overwinter in the cold climates and will not oversummer in hot climates.

Light: full sun or semi-shade
Soil: Rich loam; fertilize as necessary
Water: Keep moist in warm weather
Height: 6-10 inches


Pansies can be propagated by cuttings in the fall. They are more usually grown from seed, which can be planted in spring or fall. Fall planting involves sowing the seed in July in a cold frame. For spring bloom, pansies can be started indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost. Set out the transplants at six-inch intervals in well-composted soil when the seedlings are one to two inches high. For later bloom, pansies can be sown directly in the garden. Cover the seed to exclude light, because seedlings can be killed by too much sun. Seeds germinate in 10 to 14 days at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees.

History of Pansies

The pansy is named from the French word pensée, which means thought. It is probably named that because the flower petals often resemble a human face and nod forward as if thinking deeply. Its relative, Viola, was named by Greeks in the 4th century B.C.E. and was cultivated for its medicinal properties. Wild pansies lived in alpine meadows and on rocky ledges, and had larger and rounder flowers than the viola.

William Thompson and his employer, Lord Gambier, began crossing Viola species in the 1800s, selecting their plants for large flowers, color combinations, and unusual colors. Thompson found a bloom that had blocks of color on the lower petals and named it ‘Medora’ in 1839. The variety became popular across Europe. By the end of the century, a single-colored form with no “face” was bred by a Scottish grower, Charles Stewart.

Pansies were also much admired in America. An 1888 mail-order catalog describes the pansy as “The most popular of all flowers grown from seed.” They remain a popular garden flower today.

Other Annuals to Grow

  • Geranium
  • Impatiens
  • Marigold
  • Petunia
  • Portulaca
  • Zinnia

Pansies Bring Color to the Spring Garden

Pansies can be planted in Iowa as soon as the soil can be worked in April.

Cindy Haynes
Iowa State University Extension

Pansies are a popular spring garden annual in the Midwest. Their cheerful flowers often remind us of “painted faces” and their bright colors remind us of spring. But did you know that there are almost 500 species of pansies or violas in the world? The amazing diversity of the genus Viola has given us today’s wonderful variety of pansies.

Pansies vs. Johnny Jump-Ups

Pansies are generally classified as Viola ×wittrockiana, a complex hybrid of many Viola species. Pansies are available in every color of the rainbow and many colorful combinations. There are three basic color patterns in pansy flowers: the single, clear color types; the single color type with black penciling radiating from the center; and the common “face” type with the dark centers. Pansy flowers may be up to 3.5 to 4 inches in diameter with single, semi-double or double flower forms. The plants are compact, normally ranging from 6 inches to 12 inches in height with 6- to 9-inch spreads.

Johnny jump-ups can be thought of as petite cousins of the pansy. Johnny jump-ups are usually classified as Viola cornuta or Viola tricolor. Johnny jump-ups have smaller flowers that are available in fewer colors. Flowers are restricted to blues, violets, yellows, pinks and whites. Johnny jump-ups are more tolerant of warmer temperatures than pansies and will often bloom longer into the season.

Pansies and Johnny jump-ups are annuals. Neither will survive through the summer in the Midwest. If planted in late summer, they usually will not survive the winter. However, Johnny jump-ups often come up freely from seeds the following spring. There are several perennial Viola species (V. labradorica, V. papillionacea, V. pedata) that are native, woodland wildflowers in parts of the Midwest.

Pansy History

Violas have been cultivated in Greece since the fourth century B.C. for herbal medicines and beautiful flowers. Pansies, however, didn’t appear until the early 1800s when William Thompson, an English gardener, bred several species of violas to create the start of the larger, brightly colored flowers we know today. He is credited with developing the “face” type pansies, and the first was named ‘Medora’ in 1839.

By the 1850’s many pansy strains were available and breeding efforts continued in England, Scotland and Switzerland. At the turn of the 20th century, Dr. Charles Stewart, a Scottish grower, introduced pansies with clear colors or no faces. In this century, pansy breeding efforts continue in the United States, Germany, Italy and Japan. Breeders continue to introduce pansies with novel colors and color combinations, larger flower sizes and durability.

Growing Pansies in the Garden

In Iowa, pansies can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked in April. They are quite tolerant of light frosts and freezing temperatures. Pansies are also occasionally planted in late August or early September for their fall flowers.

Pansies prefer moist, well-drained soils in sunny to partially shaded sites. Plants placed in partially shade, cooler locations will persist longer into the summer. Most cultivars will work well in containers and baskets.

Water plants as needed, especially as the weather warms up in late spring. Keep plants well watered during dry periods and frequently remove spent blooms to encourage additional flowers. Fertilize pansies lightly in spring, avoiding high nitrogen fertilizers ─ as this may prevent blooms.

Pansy Series Selections

Pansies are available in one of the widest ranges of flower colors of any garden annual. Black, orange, bronze and true blue are just of few of the unusual flower colors of pansies. Besides having flowers of many colors, pansy flowers are also noted for their colorful combinations.

There are hundreds of series of pansies available for your garden. A series is a collection of cultivars that varies in one trait; usually flower color. For example, Matrix is a series with many flower colors or color combinations. ‘Matrix Citrus’ is a collection of orange, yellow, gold and white flowering forms. Sorbet is a Viola hybrid series with specific cultivars called ‘Lemon Chiffon’ and ‘Blueberry Cream’. Pansy series are often sold as mixes or individually by cultivar. Different series vary by flower color, height or habit.

Pansies have come a long way since the 1800s. Today, breeders are not only selecting and introducing new series with novel flower colors, but also are selecting for compact habits, free-flowering forms and increased adaptability to weather conditions. If you haven’t tried pansies in the garden in the past few years, they might be worth a second try.

There are two photos for this week’s column.

Pansy Plant Types: Selecting Different Kinds Of Pansy Flowers

“Pansy” comes from the French word “pensee,” meaning thought, and come spring, many gardeners’ thoughts turn to this summer backyard staple. The bright and cheerful blossoms seem to smile up at you like little happy faces. Pansies have been around for centuries, but so many new and fabulous pansy varieties have been developed that they have taken on a whole new aspect in the flower garden. If you want more info on remarkable kinds of pansy flowers, just keep reading.

Types of Pansies

None of us living today knew pansies when they were wild, weedy plants in the 1700s. But even this new century has seen many changes in the types of pansies available in commerce.

New pansy plant types include cultivars offering huge blossoms, ruffled petals and vivid colors and color combinations. So instead of using these modest, inexpensive blossoms as edging for more flamboyant flower displays, many gardeners are using fancy pansy varieties as the main dish.

Pansy Varieties for All Weather

Let’s start with pansy varieties that thrive in different regions. Modern pansy plant types include some that do well in hot weather, and others that can take winter’s worst and still raise pretty faces to the sun. It used to be that pansy varieties did poorly in warm regions of the country, bolting and flopping as the temperature soared. New kinds of pansy flowers, however, do very well in heat.

One good example is the ‘Matrix‘ series of pansy, developed by PanAmerican Seed. These beauties, including ‘Solar Flare,’ with its exceptional copper and scarlet tomes, which can withstand warm temperatures just fine. Or try the “Heat Elite” series of beauties. Large flowered and short stemmed, these pansies come in many colors and do well in both extremes of heat and cold.

Pansy varieties have always done well in cool areas, but how about flowers that stay lovely through Christmas? Select among the new, cold-tolerant pansy plant types like ‘Cool Wave White‘ pansy. They surf right through cold winter days in hanging baskets as long as you bring them into the garage at night.

Big and Bigger Kinds of Pansy Flowers

If you love pansies but want flowers that are big and bigger, you won’t have to look very far these days. Take a look at the ‘Colossus’ series. These pansies are huge, with upward-tilted faces as broad as your palm. They grow on compact plants about 5 inches (12 cm.) tall.

Color choice is impressive in these giants. You’ll find deep purple with darker blotches, a mosaic of shades of lavender, pure white without blotches and even deep sapphire blue, among others.

You want fancy? Try the ‘Bolero’ series of pansies for truly impressive frills. They are spectacularly lovely with frilled, semi-double flowers in vivid shades. The plants grow to some 10 inches (25 cm.) tall and spread vigorously.

An alternative is the ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ series. They offer snazzy blossoms with ruffled petals. Shades range from raspberry red to pumpkin orange to a yellow-blue swirl with contrast blotching.



Pansies are one of the earliest flowering plants, blooming right alongside the spring bulbs. The name pansy is from the French word pensie, meaning thought or remembrance. The pansy is a delicate looking flower often with a “face”.

Kingdom Plantae Division Magnoliophyta Class Magnoliopsida Order Violales Family Violaceae Genus Viola Species tricolor

Facts About Pansies

  • Pansies are fragrant and edible blooms are desirable in gardens. The pansy is linked forever to the viola, its ancestor. Viola is a large genus containing 500 species.
  • The viola family includes both pansies and violets, the former most loved for their perky faces and the latter for their pretty perfume.
  • Pansy flowers are single with five petals that are rounded in shape.
  • Pansy flowers have one of three basic color patterns. Blooms can be single, clear color, such as yellow or blue. A second pattern is a single color having black lines radiating from its center. These lines are called penciling and are similar to viola markings. The last type of flower is probably the one of the most familiar. The bloom of this type has a dark center called a “face”.
  • Some pansies have a delicate perfume-like aroma. Once you have smelled and identified the pansy scent, it is unforgettable. Pansies seem to exude more fragrance at early morning and dusk. The yellow or blue pansy flowers seem to have the strongest scent.
  • Garden Pansies are grown during the winter in the South or Southwest and during the summer in the North. Pansy plant popularity increases possible due to its ease of growing.
  • Whether grown from seed or bedding plants, pansies are relatively disease and pest free blooms. Pansies are certainly a plant for all seasons.
  • The hardy but delicate viola was cultivated by the Greeks for herbal medicinal use and much later inspired William Shakespeare to write of romance.

Uses of Pansies

Both the leaves and flowers of pansies and violas are edible and high in vitamins A and C. The flowers impart a strong flavor and have been used to make syrup, flavored honey and salads. Both the leaves and flowers can be used as a garnish, such as on cold fruit or cream soups. The flowers are also useful as a dye.

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Growing Pansies

The pansy plant itself is compact, not more than 9 inches in both height and spread, and bears many stems. The medium green, coarsely notched leaves are oval or heart-shaped. Pansies are grown from seeds. They like full to partial sun. Pansies can be directly seeded into your flower garden or seeded indoors for transplanting later.

  • Sow seeds early in the season and cover lightly with 1/8 inches of soil.
  • Water thoroughly once. They germinate slowly.
  • Transplant Pansy into your garden after the last frost date for your area. Space them 6 inch apart.
  • Pansies will tolerate a little crowding.
  • If you are creating a flower bed, you may want to create a pattern or color scheme prior to planting. Or, use mixed varieties.

Pansy Plant Care

  • Pansies seldom have problems with insects and disease. If insect or disease problems occur, treat early with organic or chemical insect repellents and fungicide.
  • If pansies fail to thrive it is often because neither nature nor the gardener provided enough water.
  • Mulching around the pansies with 2 inches of organic material will help conserve moisture, and reduce weed growth.
  • Water the soil (not the plant leaves) deeply.

Dispelling Common Fertilizer Misconceptions


By now the weather around the nation has begun to cool into that old familiar fall feel, and one flower in particular that enjoys the cooler weather is the pansy.

Pansies boast a larger flower face and many are cool-weather tolerant. These flowers are an excellent addition to your customer’s fall garden, and there are a multitude of exciting varieties up for grabs.

Take a look at a few beautiful and unique color options these flowers offer.

Colossus Red with Blotch
Photo: National Garden Bureau

Colossus Red with Blotch

These bright red beauties are developed specifically for high density production, and they are well-suited for summer and fall markets. They produce large blooms that can stand up to heat stress. They can typically reach a height of 4-5 inches tall and 6-8 inches wide. They are compact low-growers, which makes them ideal for rock paths and edging.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
  • Full sun to partial sun

Colossus Tricolor
Photo: National Garden Bureau

Colossus Tricolor

As the name suggests, these pansies boast three colors with their purple wings, yellow faces and a darker center blotch. They begin flowering in the spring and fall, and they are fairly low maintenance. They can typically reach a height of 4-5 inches tall and 6-8 inches wide. They are compact low-growers, which makes them ideal for rock paths and edging.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
  • Full sun to partial sun

Colossus White with Blotch
Photo: National Garden Bureau

Colossus White with Blotch

When it comes to this particular pansy, the saying, “less is more” really comes into play. Featuring a simple white background and a darker middle, these little beauties give your customer’s garden just the pop it needs while also adding in a touch of elegance. They give off a pleasing aroma and have a spread of approximately 5-8 inches.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
  • Full sun to partial sun

Nature Red and Yellow American Takii
Photo: National Garden Bureau

Nature Red and Yellow American Takii

For customers who can’t decide on one dominant color for their beds, this type is the obvious choice. Boasting colorful faces that bring in multiple colors, these flowers are also compact but give outstanding flower production. The flower may be small in comparison to other types, but they do maintain a neat habit whether they are in a bed or out and about in the landscape.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
  • Full sun to partial sun

Delta Pure Orange
Photo: National Garden Bureau

Delta Pure Orange

Keeping with the traditional colors of fall, this pop of orange is sure to stand out in your customer’s garden while complimenting the surrounding décor. This type is very weather tolerant, are easily managed and maintain early and continuous flowering capacity under low light conditions.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
  • Full sun to partial sun

Delta Pure Light Blue
Photo: National Garden Bureau

Delta Pure Light Blue

For customers who may want to break from traditional fall colors and add in a different color pop, these bright blues will certainly draw the eye. Their short, sturdy stems are weather tolerant and they boast larger flower faces. They are compact low-growers, which makes them ideal for rock paths and edging. They are able to flower in spring, fall and winter, which makes them a good choice for customers who don’t want the hassle of changing out their beds with each season.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
  • Full sun to partial sun

The Pansy Flower: Its Meaning & Symbolism

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Pansy Flower Color Meanings

Pansies are a rare flower because they are available in a wide variety of blues along with many other colors. Traditional meanings of flower colors also hold true for pansies (red and violet mean passion, yellow means having a bright disposition or happiness, blue equals calmness and trustworthiness, pink denotes innocence, orange is a welcoming warm color, but the color white means lets take a chance. So, if you were to offer a bouquet of white pansies edged in violet you could secretly be saying let’s take a chance (white) on my passionate feeling towards you (red portion of violet) because I trust (blue portion of violet) you with my feelings. Who knew sending a bouquet of flowers could mean so much?

Pansy colors are infinite in either tri-color, solids or bi-colors. Some varieties are in beautiful pastel shades of apricot, peach and shell pink denoting a gentle tenderness towards another person. Blue is generally an uncommon color in flowers except pansies, which have pastel shades of blue, violet blues, dark blues and true blues. Color meaning in pansies can be very simple or complex. Other colors in pansies include burgundy, deep orange, copper, purple, light purple, black, white and subtle variations of these colors.

Meaningful Botanical Characteristics of the Pansy Flower

Pansy flowers have been used in herbal and Chinese medicine for centuries. All parts of the plant are edible and are a good source of nutrients. Pansy has been used to break down the density of tumors believed to prevent them from turning cancerous. Pansies were used in ancient Athens to take the heat out of an angry heart. This occurs because of the mildly sedative qualities of pansy. Pliny, a Roman had written that pansy could ease headaches and their accompanying dizziness. This was true because one of the active ingredients in pansy is salicylic acid, the same main ingredient in modern day aspirin. Pansy also contains saponins which are compounds found in plants that have expectorant (mucus clearing properties) and anti-inflammatory properties. They are commonly used for upper respiratory infections.

Interesting Facts About the Pansy Flower

  • Is the official symbol of Osaka, Japan
  • Is derived from the small tri-color viola, a European wildflower
  • Modern pansies are simply the result of some very astute gardeners noticing different color combinations growing in different environments (woodlands compared to open rocky areas), of viola tri-color, viola lutea and viola altaica which were then hybridized for different color combinations and patterns
  • Was used to great comic effect in the Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Offer the Pansy Flower on These Occasions

Got cabin fever? Give yourself the gift of pansies. I know that pansies in shades of orange, apricot, shell pink or yellow would brighten my corner of the world. A pot of solid blue pansies would be a great gift for an over scheduled stressed out person. The blue color would mellow them out immediately. Pansies can be the gift of calmness or a late winter energizer.

The Pansy Flower’s Message Is:

To me the pansy means these three things: Be of good cheer, a clear mind and calm spirit.

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