How long do pansies live?

Pansy Bloom Time: When Is Pansy Flowering Season

When do pansies bloom? Pansies still liven up the flower garden all summer long, but that’s not all folks. These days, with new types of pansies being developed, pansy bloom time can last the whole year through. If you want more information about the pansy flowering season, read on. We’ll give you the scoop on pansy plant flowering periods.

About Pansy Plant Flowering

If you wonder “when do pansies bloom,” brace yourself for a long answer to a short question. Different pansies have different pansy flowering seasons in different regions. And many can last in your garden for many, many months.

Pansies are known to prefer cool temperatures with thick layers of sunshine. Generally, this means that these easy-care, colorful flowers do best during winter in southern regions, throughout summer in cooler northern regions and during both

spring and fall in areas in between.

In many areas, pansies are grown as annuals. Gardeners extend pansy bloom time by starting the plants indoors. You can plant pansies in the fall in cold-winter regions and there is a good chance these tough plants will survive to flower in early spring.

Do Pansies Bloom in Summer or Winter?

Pansies are such lovely little flowers and take so little maintenance that they are highly desirable garden guests. Many gardeners want to know how long they can keep them around.

Do pansies bloom in summer or winter? As a rule, pansy flowering season is from spring to summer in cool climates, then the flowers die back as temperatures rise. But pansy bloom time is fall to winter in hot areas.

That being said, plant breeders extend these familiar options with new cultivars offering longer pansy flowering seasons. Newer varieties of pansies can survive temperatures down to the single digits, freeze solid, then rebloom in early spring.

Check out some of the cold-tolerant pansies like the ‘Cool Wave’ series of pansy. Even in cold climates, these plants can adorn your hanging baskets deep into winter as long as you protect them by bringing them indoors at night. They are cold hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 5. Or try the ‘Heat Elite’ series. These huge flowers maintain their shape and bloom freely, accepting without a shrug extremes of hot or cold weather. This extends pansy plant flowering in both warm and cool areas.

How Long Do Pansies Last? – Knowledgebase Question

Pansies lose their vigor in the heat and humidity of summer and show off their best in spring and fall. However, with careful planning they can often be encouraged to “summer over” as well as occasionally “winter over.” It’s the kind of challenge many gardeners enjoy, seeing the pansies come out of their summer rest and flourishing again, or actually flowering in late winter before many garden centers are even carrying them yet!
The trick is location. To survive the heat/cold plant them in spring in a protected area, such as at the edge of the house or under a shrub. Once established, mulch them well. When they fizzle in summer, don’t disturb them, but do keep them well watered. When the weather cools down in fall, they will likely raise their heads again with gratitude and blooms! When they slow down their fall bloom, again be sure they are mulched and then don’t be surprised if they greet you again in early spring…especially if the winter has been mild. You can even let some set seed, which should germinate early in the spring. The challenge of successful repeat blooms is as enjoyable as the blooms themselves!

Here’s a very short story about why I love pansies:

Photo by Matt Suwak.

My fiance loves colorful flowers. The brighter the better, she’d tell you. I’ve always tried to work with a specific palette of color to ensure a nice cohesion to landscape design. She, on the hand, wants pinks here and bright oranges in the corner, and don’t forget yellow and red in the middle.

When we bought pansies for the front garden, the first garden we planted together, we had a difficult time finding enough identical colors in the quantities we needed. So our first garden became a kaleidoscope, a dizzying array of two-toned flowers that we mashed together. It looked like somebody dropped a few dozen 64-pack boxes of Crayola crayons in the yard.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

There was no symmetry or attempts at order here; we planted at random to make the most of our purchase. Little did I suspect that with pansies, you don’t need rhyme or reason. Pansies can be planted in one mass of color, or thrown together into a mix resembling scattered Skittles, and they’ll reward you with incredible displays of color.

It’s the best garden I’ve ever planted, and I owe it all to the pansy.

A Short History Lesson

The pansy gets its name from the French word pensée, or “thought.” So wrinkle that brow and get ready to jump into some learnin’!

Modern-day pansies trace their origin to the European flower Viola tricolor, a wildflower that has since been introduced into North America where it has taken hold as a common sight in lawn and field. It’s easy to see the similarities between a viola and a pansy, but there’s one surefire way to distinguish them from each other:

Photo by Matt Suwak.

If the flower has four petals facing upward and one petal facing downward, you’re looking at a pansy. If the flower has two upward-facing petals and three facing downward, it’s a viola. Take that little tidbit to your next garden club meeting.

The staggering array of colors and patterns available in pansies today can be traced back to wealthy landowners and their trusted gardeners.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet of Surrey in England sought to collect and cultivate every type of V. tricolor in her garden that she could get her hands on. Her gardener, William Richardson, convinced her to cross-breed the superb collection of flowers. By 1812, the flowers were introduced and other gardeners took a stab at further cultivars.

At about the same time, James, Lord Gambier and his gardener, William Thompson, crossbred their own specimens. Thanks to the combined efforts of landowners and their smooth-talking gardeners, by 1833 there were over 400 new species of V. tricolor available, with their own cultivar names.

The Truth About Pansies

I do love to drink a tasty beer while I’m gardening at home, and I think a little bit of Truth goes a long way when we’re talking about the uses of pansies.

The great appeal of absorbing yourself in the world of plants is that there’s always something new to learn. For example, this article you’re reading right now is about how to plant and care for pansies. However, in my research, I learned some surprising insights on V. tricolor.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

First off, these guys are edible. That’s pretty great in and of itself. You can see colorful pansies used to decorate cakes and salads, and they’re used to infuse honey with particular flavors. Think of that pansy bed as a fall and springtime nasturtium replacement.

We recommend only eating flowers from your garden that have been grown organically, and take it easy when adding them to your salads and desserts, in case of possible allergies.

To add pansy flowers to your meals, simply pluck off the flowers you like and add them to the dish. Be mindful of insects and other undesirables. It should be standard practice to rinse off anything from your garden before eating it!

Photo by Matt Suwak.

Traditionally, V. tricolor has been used medicinally as well. The mucilage found in the plant provides treatment for rough coughs by soothing mucous membranes. It’s been used to treat respiratory problems, asthma, fever, and constipation, among other ailments. Some sources claim it can be used to treat skin wounds and psoriasis.

If you’re going to ingest your pansies, be diligent on what types of fertilizer you are using. Carefully read the labels of all fertilizers, mulches, and other accessory products used in your garden beds.

Luckily, pansies are almost universally known as either “pansies” or “violas.” The only quality that makes a pansy a “winter pansy” is its cold hardiness. And for the most part, all pansies share a similar tenacity towards cold weather.

As a rule of thumb, the larger the flower on a pansy, the less likely the plant is to overwinter well.

Care and Maintenance

Delightful and prosperous in the right conditions, these flowers require some basic preparation and site maintenance to thrive. They also suffer from a number of diseases and pests, but a little knowledge goes a long way in preventing these conditions.

It bears mentioning right off the bat that pansies fare exceptionally well in containers, because this eliminates the usual source of problems while providing all of their favorite conditions.

Starting Things the Right Way

Chances are you’re going to be starting in a garden center or perhaps shopping online when planting pansies. This is where it all begins!

Photo by Matt Suwak.

There are three rules for buying almost any landscape flowering plant, and they all apply to purchasing the pansy. Luckily, they’re all super simple. Here’s what to look out for:

1. Healthy Leaves and Stems

The leaves and stems should be firm and green with no limp qualities, signs of rot, or obvious infestations of critters.

Most attendants at the plant nursery are happy to answer your questions if you have any about the health of a plant.

2. Strong Roots

Although it can be difficult to inspect the roots, it’s not impossible. Give the stem of the plant a gentle tug, as if you’re removing it from its container. If the plant threatens to pop out of the soil, it’s too weak, and if the whole cell slides out, you’re looking at a rootbound plant.

Just like Goldilocks, you want the plants that are somewhere in the middle, with roots that are just right.

3. Buds

It’s tempting to buy the plant with the flashiest flowers right now, but hold off on that and find a plant with plenty of buds instead. Those buds will open up into new flowers in a few days or weeks and provide you with lasting color, whereas the flowers already in bloom at the garden center are likely to wither away shortly after you get home.

Now that you’ve picked up your plants, let’s look at their new home.

Fall is the best time of year to plant a pansy. The cooler temperatures and less intense light enable the plant to establish healthy roots to survive the winter months. Although they’ll grow in conditions with less light, the pansy prefers a solid 6 hours of sunlight or more to prosper.

Consider planting V. tricolor in an area where you have spring bulbs. The variety of flowers will all bloom at the same time and provide a brilliant display of springtime color.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

Like many plants, the pansy requires well-drained soil. If you have a slightly elevated bed, ideally around 6 inches higher than grade, you’ve got an ideal situation for growing V. tricolor.

Amend the soil with good quality compost to aid in drainage. Many communities offer free compost; it makes fall and spring leaf cleanups a breeze when homeowners return the leaves as compost!

If planted en masse in a bed for a real pop of color, maintain a distance of 6 to 10 inches between plants to aid in air circulation. If you are the indecisive type, plant them 8 inches apart!

Speaking of planting, are you using a soil knife? Mine has become a vital tool in the last year, and I wonder how I ever did without it. Check out the one I use by A.M. Leonard, available on Amazon.

A.M. Leonard Classic Stainless Steel Soil Knife

You know that feeling you get when you get a new haircut? It’s refreshing, isn’t it? The pansy responds the same way to getting a haircut.

Deadheading only takes a few minutes and these flowers will respond with glowing color. When growth gets leggy, it’s beneficial to bring out a pair of shears and give them a good haircut to encourage new growth.

Jack’s Classic 20-20-20 All Purpose Fertilizer from J R Peters, available on Amazon

For the best blooms, fertilize regularly. Every two weeks is a good schedule during the fall and spring growing seasons. I recommend Jack’s All-Purpose Fertilizer for just about anything in your garden. If you prefer a slow-release organic fertilizer, use Espoma Plant Tone, my other go-to choice.

Espoma PT18 Plant Tone, available on Amazon

When fertilizing, it’s wise to wet the soil around the plants before applying a liquid fertilizer. This allows the nutrients to be absorbed more quickly by the plants and prevents runoff.

If you’re using a granular or slow-release fertilizer, do this the other way around. That is, apply the fertilizer to dry soil and then water it in.

Pests and Other Concerns

For all of those great shows of color, the pansy also invites its share of trouble. But like most things in life, a little diligence by way of prevention can stop a problem before it starts.

Aphids, the pansy worm, cutworms, and the slow creeping march of slugs all plague V. tricolor. Regular insecticidal soaps will assist in preventing infestations, and in removing problems. The best method to preventing these pests from becoming a problem is to maintain a watchful eye on the health of your plants.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

Kill two birds with one stone by inspecting plants for pests while deadheading. You’ll save time and help keep those blooms in tip-top shape.

Root rot and downy mildew are the biggest concerns for pansy health. These are situations easily avoided by maintaining a healthy watering schedule and by carefully selecting where your plants will be established.

The Passing Seasons

A brilliant display of flowers while they are becoming established in the fall is hyphenated by the winter cool-down. Pansies will survive in the cold and the snow with little more than a stiff upper lip turned towards ol’ Jack Frost. Frozen winter days are when I consider watering my pansy bed with whiskey because they’re John Wayne tough.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

Pansies will survive through most single-digit weather and can have snow and ice dumped on them. However, if you want to guarantee their survival, consider giving the plants a good watering before a hard freeze to protect the roots. Pine straw is an excellent choice for mulching your pansy bed for added protection from the onslaught of winter.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

Personally, I say, leave ‘em be. Pansies will pop up and smile at the sun during warm winter weather. Why cover up and potentially minimize that rare flash of winter color?

The arrival of spring provides a good opportunity to give the plants a quick cleanup, but then brace yourself for that color explosion. Springtime is when these guys really shine.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

Unfortunately, the hotter it gets, the weaker pansies perform. They are simply not cut out for warmer weather, and even specific cultivars bred for this purpose tend to winnow out when temperatures climb in June and July. My own bed was completely dried up and withered by the Fourth of July. But you may find more success and a longer season in cooler climates.

A Closer Look at Cultivars

Working at a garden center allowed me to learn the names people prefer to use for their plants. It led to many a confusing interaction – imagine being asked for “chlamydia” when the customer meant “clematis”. Believe me, it’s happened more than once.

We’re going to look at a handful of cultivars available below.


A reliable and hardy flower, the Colormax series offers a viola with a larger flower.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

Rivaling pansies in size, it can handle winter cold and sudden spikes of warmth through the fall and into early summer.


My favorite style of pansy, the Delta offers a tremendous variety of color in a plant that’s capable of taking some serious punishment.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

The flowers are almost constantly in bloom and offer a wide enough selection that even the most picky gardener can find something suitable. These flowers tend to be smaller than other types.


The Matrix varieties have the most interesting colors, as far as I’m concerned. The one pictured here is ‘Solar Flare’, and if that’s not a punchy and vibrant color, then I don’t know what is!

Photo by Matt Suwak.

The Matrix cultivars about as hardy as the Delta series.


It’s all in the name with this one. The Mammoth provides some massively-sized flowers with a respectable assortment of colors to choose from.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

Although you’ll receive huge flowers from the Mammoth series, keep in mind that they are also less hardy against cold winters.

Where to Buy

Though you local nursery is likely your best bet for pallets of pansies that are ready to put into your containers or the ground, if you’re willing to start from seed, a variety of options are available to you.

We love the variety offered in the Cool Wave Series, available from True Leaf Market. You can choose from packs of 100 seeds in Frost, Golden Yellow, Violet Wing, Purple, or mixed packages.

Pansy Cool Wave Series in Purple

This vigorous spreading variety is excellent for hanging baskets and ground covers, and it boasts excellent overwintering hardiness with two-inch blooms.

Put Your Knowledge to Work for Enjoyment Through the Seasons

Planting pansies is one of my favorite gardening traditions, coupled with enjoying throughout the colder seasons and again in the springtime sun. They are an excellent flower for novices and experts alike to liven up their yards and porches.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to run to the store and buy my usual motley array of colors and get to planting. I’ll see you out there!

Photo by Matt Suwak.

Do you have any pansy memories you want to share, or questions about planting these lovely flowers? Ask us here in the comments, or feel free to connect with us on the Gardener’s Path Facebook page or Twitter!


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Photos by Matt Suwak. © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via A.M. Leonard, J.R. Peters, Espoma, True Leaf Market. Uncredited photo: .

The staff at Gardener’s Path are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or promise cure. Gardener’s Path and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet or using plant-based remedies or supplements for health and wellness.

About Matt Suwak

Matt Suwak was reared by the bear and the bobcat and the coyote of rural Pennsylvania. This upbringing keeps him permanently affixed to the outdoors where most of his personal time is invested in gardening, bird watching, and hiking. He presently resides in Philadelphia and works under the sun as a landscaper and gardener, and by moonlight as a writer. An incessant questioning of “Why?” affords him countless opportunities to ponder the (in)significance of the great and the small. He considers folksy adages priceless treasures and is fueled almost entirely by beer and hot sauce.


Botanically speaking, violas, pansies, and almost all violets are perennials belonging to the genus Viola. However, violas and pansies are usually treated as annuals, invaluable for fall, winter, and spring bloom in mild-winter areas, for spring-through-early-summer color in colder climates. Typically used for mass color in borders and edgings, as covers for spring-flowering bulbs, and in containers. Violets are more often used as woodland or rock garden plants.

Violas and pansies take sun or partial shade, though pansies will bloom longer into spring if given afternoon shade. Violets grow in part or full shade, but most are natives of deciduous forests and bloom best with at least some sun during the flowering season. Violas are tougher than pansies, more tolerant of both heat and cold.

Almost all violets have two kinds of flowers: normal, con- spicuous ones that are held above the foliage and may be pollinated and set seed, and short-stemmed, inconspicuous cleistogamous (Greek for closed mouth) flowers that set seed without pollination and produce copious offspring identical to the parent. Many violets also spread by aboveground runners. Some reproduce so freely they can crowd out other small plants.

Violas and pansies have such complex ancestries that many botanists are unwilling to assign them to species, preferring to list them by selection name. However, we believe it will avoid confusion if we retain these plants under their former names, invalid though they now may be.


viola affinis(Viola sororia affinis)

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • Native from New England south to Georgia and Alabama, west to Wisconsin.
  • To 3 inches tall, spreading wider, with small, triangular, wavy-toothed leaves.
  • Dark-veined violet flowers, white at petal bases and centered with a lighter eye, open above the foliage in spring.

sweet white violet

viola blanda

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • From eastern North America.
  • To 23 inches high, spreading indefinitely by runners.
  • Fragrant white flowers with purple veining have sharply reflexed petals.
  • Likes moist soil with lots of organic material.


viola cornuta

  • Perennials grown as cool-season annuals.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Native to Spain.
  • To 68 inches high and 8 inches wide, with smooth, wavy-edged leaves.
  • Purple, pansylike, slender-spurred flowers about 112 inches across.
  • Modern strains and selections are complex hybrids with larger, shorter-spurred flowers; they come in solid colors (purple, blue, yellow, apricot, ruby-red, white) or with elaborate markings (faces).
  • Plants in the Sorbet and Penny series are top performers in the South; Gem and Jewel series do very well too.


viola cucullata(Viola obliqua)

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • From eastern and central North America.
  • To 6 inches high, 10 inches wide.
  • Toothed, heart-shaped leaves to 4 inches across.
  • Blue, 34 inches-wide flowers are held well above the leaves in early spring.
  • Good ground cover; no runners, but self-sows liberally and can become a pest.
  • Thrives in moist and wet soils.
  • Alba has white flowers.
  • The violet often sold as ‘White Czar’white with yellow throat veined in blackis a selection of this species; the name, however, correctly belongs to an old variety of Viola odorata.

sweet violet

viola odorata

bird’s-foot violet

viola pedata

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • From eastern North America.
  • So named because its finely divided leaves resemble a bird’s foot.
  • Forms a clump to 2 inches high, 4 inches wide; does not spread by runners.
  • Blooms early spring to early summer; 4 inches stems bear inch-wide, typically two-tone violet-blue flowers with darker veining.
  • Not as easy to grow as other violets; likes excellent drainage, filtered sun or high shade, and acidic soil.

dooryard violet

viola sororia

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • From eastern and central North America.
  • To 46 inches high, 8 inches wide; does not spread by runners but self-sows freely.
  • Roughly heart-shaped leaves to 5 inches wide vary from densely hairy to almost smooth.
  • Good ground cover under woodland shrubs.
  • Nearly scentless, 12- to 34 inches flowers in spring to early summer are held close to leaves; colors range from white to red-violet to blue-violet.
  • Most commonly seen are the following smooth-leafed selections (all come true from seed): ‘Albiflora’, pure white with yellow in throat; ‘Freckles’, white liberally spotted with blue; ‘Priceana’ (popularly known as Confederate violet), white with blue-violet veining in throat.


viola tricolor

  • Perennial grown as cool-season annual.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • From Europe, Asia.
  • Spring bloomer to 612 inches tall and broad; spreads widely by profuse self-sowing.
  • Oval, deeply lobed leaves to 1 14 inches long.
  • Pert, 12- to 34 inches., velvety purple-and-yellow or blue-and-yellow flowers are the original wild pansies.
  • Same planting and care as pansy.
  • Crosses with closely related small-flowered species have produced forms with flowers in violet, blue, white, yellow, lavender, mauve, apricot, orange, redwith or without markings (faces).
  • Flowers of ‘Molly Sanderson’ (V.
  • Molly Sanderson) are very dark purplealmost black.

walter’s violet

viola walteri

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Native from South Carolina to Florida and west to Texas, Ohio.
  • To 68 inches tall, wide spreading, with mottled, dark green foliage, often tinged purple beneath.
  • Stems root where they touch the ground, producing new plants.
  • In spring, bears blue-violet flowers with dark veins and white petal bases, paler eye.
  • Silver Gem has silvery foliage.


viola x wittrockiana

  • Perennial grown as cool-season annual.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • To 610 inches high, 912 inches wide.
  • Many strains with 2- to 4 inches flowers in white, blue, mahogany-red, rose, yellow, apricot, purple; also bicolors.
  • Most have dark blotches on the lower three petals; such flowers are often said to resemble faces.
  • Shiny green leaves are oval to nearly heart shaped, slightly lobed, 112 inches or longer.

Series are almost too numerous to mention; here are just a few. Heat-tolerant Antique Shades boasts a mix of jewel-toned flowers to 3 inches across. Crystal Bowl is a compact grower, with a profusion of small flowers in vivid, clear colors without faces. Heat- and cold-tolerant Majestic Giants II sports large blooms, to 4 inches across, in the full color range, including many bicolors. Strong-growing Matrix freely produces large blooms in a wide color range, with and without faces. The floriferous ‘Pandora’s Box’ has blooms in rose, pink, orange, and yellow. Plants in the heavy-blooming Panola series, also available in the full range of colors and faces, produce medium-size, thick-petaled flowers that resist damage from rain and snow.

A group of recently developed trailing pansies grow quickly to 68 inches tall and 2430 inches wide; they work beautifully as ground covers or spilling from hanging baskets and window boxes. Look for the vigorous, long-blooming Cool Wave series in yellow, blue, purple, white, and bicolors. Freefall series features rich, saturated colors. WonderFall series is similar but also offers red and pink flowers.

In the Upper South (USDA 6), set out nursery plants of pansies and violas in spring for summer bloom; elsewhere, plant in autumn for winter-to-spring (or longer) bloom. Or start from seed: In the Upper South (USDA 6), sow in mid- to late summer and overwinter seedlings in cold frame until spring; or sow indoors in winter, plant in spring. Elsewhere, sow in mid- to late summer, plant out in fall. To prolong bloom, pick flowers (with some foliage) regularly and remove faded blooms before they set seed. In hot areas, plants get ragged by mid- to late spring and should be removed.

How to Select and Grow Pansies

Gardeners in warmer Zones have long known that pansies can be planted in fall and continue to grow and bloom all winter and into spring. What isn’t as well known is that pansies can overwinter as far north as Zone 4, making them hardy even in parts of the northern United States and southern Canada.

Many gardeners chafe at the idea of splurging for flowers that may not last more than a month in the ground. However, if planted in fall, pansies can last up to eight months, from September to April or May, providing fall and spring color. That’s a pretty good deal.

Pansies aren’t attractive in the middle of the coldest winters. In fact, they can look downright pitiful (when they’re not buried under snow). But they’re just biding their time until spring, when they hit their stride. The bonus for keeping them around is that the spring bloom is usually much more robust when the plants have been in the ground since fall.

Verbena is another fantastic annual.

Pansies vs. Violas

Image zoom Viola tricolor is a relative ofthe pansy, and just as hardy.

Pansies are viola hybrids, officially known as Viola x wittrockiana, with a complex ancestry that includes several species. They’re short-lived perennials but are used as annuals or biennials. Similar to pansies and offered in garden centers at the same time are Johnny jump-ups (Viola tricolor) and Viola ‘Jackanapes’. Both of these have hardiness similar to pansies.

Pansies come in Series that offer the same plant and flower characteristics but in a variety of bloom colors. This gives you great flexibility in working with flower color because you can buy individual colors of a series, if you wish, or a mix of colors from the same series.

Learn how to start pansies and other annuals from seed

Overwintering Pansies

Image zoom Some varieties of pansy, like’Raspberry Rose’, shown here, haveveins instead of blotches.

  • Plant as early as possible. The more established the plants are, the better they’ll be able to withstand cold, desiccating winter conditions. That means planting in September, if possible. The farther south you are, the wider your planting window, and October may also be acceptable in warmer Zones. But in Zones 4-7, early planting is key.
  • Choose healthy plants. Healthy plants establish more quickly, rapidly growing the root system that’s so critical to winter hardiness.
  • Choose hardy varieties. Generally, varieties with medium-size flowers overwinter better than large-flowered types, but there are several exceptions. In any case, obtaining the very hardiest cultivars is only a concern in northern areas such as Zones 4 and 5. Varieties that have overwintered well for the Green Bay Botanical Garden in Wisconsin include the Sky, Delta, Bingo, and Accord Series. Icicle pansies (and violas) have been bred specifically for cold hardiness and also have tested well in Zone 4. Other pansies that are reported to grow well in the north are Crystal Bowl, Presto, Skyline, Universal, and Maxim.
  • Ensure good drainage. Pansies are susceptible to saturated soil. They have been known to overwinter successfully, only to succumb to excessive moisture as the winter’s snow and ice begin to melt. Be sure they’re growing in a well-drained location.

Mixing Pansies with Other Flowers

Image zoom

A technique gaining in popularity is to plant spring-blooming bulbs in fall in the usual fashion, then install pansies in the same bed, right over the bulbs. The bulbs will emerge and bloom as usual in spring. When their flowers die down, the pansies will just be starting their spring bloom, providing additional color while the bulb foliage ripens. This is a great way to get more color from your beds until it’s time to plant summer annuals.

Pansies are perfect partners for other cool-season annual flowers, including:

  • Calendula
  • Diascia
  • Flowering kale
  • Nemesia
  • Snapdragon

Shopping for Pansies

Image zoom A healthy six-pack of pansies (right) are compact and fresh-looking. Avoid gangly or droopy plants (left).

Pansies don’t have a long shelf life in packs. They stretch out quickly, and once they do, they’ll never do as well when planted. Garden centers often sell old, stretched out plants at a discount, but resist the temptation to buy them.

Healthy pansies are compact, exhibit minimal leaf yellowing, and probably show fewer blooms while in the packs because they’re younger plants. Despite the lack of color at the time of purchase, these are the plants you want. When you find packs that look good, pop a few plants out and look at the roots. They should be white, not brown, and should be well developed throughout the soil plug.

Image zoom Cut pansies make a wonderful spring bouquet. The flowers are edible and add a spicy flavor to salads.

You’ll find a better selection of healthy plants earlier in the fall season, so don’t delay. September is the month that pansies begin to appear in nurseries in most regions. Many gardeners swear by field-grown pansies, which are sown outdoors and lifted into flats when ready for sale. Field-grown pansies are good plants but so are pack plants. For both, the same rules apply: Look for compact, healthy plants.

How to Grow Pansies

Image zoom

Pansies are not difficult to grow. Good soil, steady moisture, and at least partial sun will provide the results you’re looking for. What they don’t tolerate is heat and humidity, which is why they thrive in spring and fall.

Plant pansies 6 to 8 inches apart. They can be used as borders, or in larger masses, but don’t count on a solid ground cover. The plants are more clumping than spreading. Pansies respond well to regular deadheading. As often as possible, every couple of days if you can, pinch off faded blooms and any fruit (small green seed capsules) that may be forming. This will spur plants to continue blooming.

Image zoom Pansies can become leggy in hot weather. When that happens, don’t be shy about replacing them with summer annuals.

Fertility aids vigorous bloom. If you apply a mild fertilizer at fall planting and every four to five weeks in spring, it will ensure good nutrition for the pansies. Pests are not a major issue with pansies, but slugs and snails do count pansies amount their favorites, so control may be necessary from time to time. Aphids can also crop up occasionally. Leaf diseases, particularly mildews, are fairly common, and the occasional plant will die from root or crown rot, so take care not to bury the stems or crowns. Healthy plants and good growing conditions (ample sun, fertile soil, and good drainage) will keep pest problems to a minimum.

Heat causes pansies to become leggy and lose most of their bloom. So when summer warmth begins to get the upper hand, go ahead and remove pansies to make way for your summer annuals.

What Killed my Pansies?

This is a question we have been asked frequently this fall. Though every situation is different, we’ll try to explain the most common causes for pansies to die in the fall. Note that though we say pansies, the same applies to violas.

So, we’ve had a pretty wet fall here in the Triad, with significantly more than average rainfall September through November. While above-average rainfall can make some plants very happy (fescue lawns, particularly those reseeded this fall, are doing very well, thank you very much), some plants can be susceptible to disease when there’s extra moisture.

One of those plants is pansies. While they appreciate even moisture, excessive rainfall (or irrigation) can cause several plant diseases that are commonly present in the soil or in the air to become active. Many diseases slow or stop during freezing weather, so during periods of unseasonably warm weather the disease cycle continues much longer than it would. Seemingly healthy plants can suddenly decline and die rapidly. Here are the symptoms for the most common and destructive diseases of pansies in the landscape.

Black Root Rot (Thielaviopsis) destroys the roots, initially causing stunting, yellowing and wilting of the plant. The disease often progresses enough to kill the plant. Root tips, then eventually the entire root system of affected plants turn black. The spores are widespread in the soil and can be spread by splashing raindrops.

Botrytis blight causes flowers to rot, often covered in grey, fuzzy or webby mold. In wet weather, the rot can spread to seemingly healthy flowers and leaves. It can eventually affect a large portion of the plant. Botrytis is less of a problem when pansies are regularly deadheaded as the airborne spores (or occasionally water-borne) often gain an initial foothold on dead flowers.

Tough pansies bloom throughout fall, winter season

Back when I was in grade school, “pansy” was a derogatory term for someone who was a scaredy-cat and wouldn’t tackle the challenge of the moment or wasn’t as strong and durable as others. The pansy flower certainly deserves a better image as it is one of the toughest and most durable plants of fall, winter and early spring here in Oklahoma.

Pansies love cool weather and flourish once night temperatures drop to 60 degrees or below. They do best with daytime temperatures below 75 degrees. The modern pansy varieties are far superior to the older or heirloom pansy and will often bloom from October all through winter and into mid- or late May. Fall and winter pansies will do great in well-drained flower beds in full or part sun, and they are great in container gardens. Pansies in above-ground containers may slow down more when the temperature dips into the teens or below, but they usually recover within a few days and will continue to show until late spring. Water them periodically through the winter when they get dry. They will benefit from a winter feeding or two since they are growing and producing when most plants are dormant. If they start to look tired through the winter, you can feed them and cut back the old flower heads or stringy stretched-out plant to get a new burst of flowers. Their beautiful flower faces will usually turn toward the sun, and they can really liven up your south or west flower beds as well as beds out near the curb, along sidewalks or in the center of the yard. They also work well in sun-drenched patio pots. Pansies respond well to 1.5 pounds of bone meal per 25 square feet or 1.5 pounds of a good general fertilizer per 100 square feet. You can plant them in drifts or groupings of a single color or as massed plantings of mixed colors. For the most dramatic effect, plant them on 6-inch to 8-inch centers. Pansies continue to prove how tough they are by being resistant to most diseases and insects as long as they are in a well-drained soil and don’t have “wet feet.” Pansy flowers vary from 1 1/2 inches to 4 inches wide and are available in red, lavender, orange, yellow, blue, violet, black, white and pink. Some varieties are solid colors, while others have dark blotches or markings in the center or lower part of each flower. If you plant them in the next few weeks, they will bloom for six to eight months. Violas or Johnny Jumps-ups are the ancestor of the modern pansy, and some people call them miniature pansies or wild pansies because of their small, dainty flowers. This neat plant makes a real impact when planted in mass groupings and is available in blue, violet, yellow and white. Like their more widely known relative, the pansy, they are also cold tolerant and prolific bloomers and are getting renewed interest for fall and winter gardening. Mulching around pansies or violas will reduce watering, insulate them better from the harshest winter weather and will result in even better plant performance. We are still in the heart of our fall or second planting season, and this is a great time to plant container-grown trees, shrubs and perennials. This is also prime season to plant tall fescue, ryegrass or bluegrass with fescue for long-term shady area lawns or for seasonal green lawns in sunny lawn areas. Hardy mums and asters for fall color and flowering kale and cabbage can now be planted. This is also the time to select spring flowering bulbs, such as crocuses, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. Plant them in the next couple of months to bloom next spring. The weather has been fabulous the past several weeks, so now is the perfect time to get outside and partake of your fall garden by planting pansies and mums for color and enjoying the color changes the next four to six weeks. The fall-to-winter transition is one of the truly amazing shows nature produces each year and is a special time to enjoy the great outdoors. Rodd Moesel serves on the Oklahoma Horticulture Industrial Council and the Oklahoma State University agriculture dean’s advisory committee. He is a former president of the Oklahoma Greenhouse Growers. E-mail garden and landscape questions to [email protected]

Source(s): Raymond Kessler, Extension Horticulturist, Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, Auburn University.

The flower most often planted in the fall by Georgia gardeners is the pansy. The main reason pansies are so popular is the fact they provide a colorful floral display for almost 6 months during the fall, winter, and spring. Few other bedding plants can perform as well in the landscape.

Growing Pansies

Pansies grow best when night temperatures are below 65 F, which makes them ideal for fall gardens. Plant them from mid September into October, depending on where you live in Georgia, for blooms that last until hot weather starts in April. Even though plants are available for sale in packs earlier in garden centers and mass-market outlets, planting when it is too hot can cause problems for the plants. Pansies can survive temperatures as low as 2 F in the winter.

A big plus with the pansy is the variety of colors. Pansies can be purchased in almost every color of the rainbow, even those with black flowers! There are solid colored pansies and pansies with faces.

Pansies also come in a variety of sizes. The large category has blooms that range in size from 3 1/2 inches to 4 1/2 inches. Medium size blooms run 2 1/2 inches to 3 1/2 inches. The small, or multiflora, bloom sizes run 1 1/2 inches to 2 1/2 inches. Generally, pansies with smaller flowers tolerate heat and adverse growing conditions better than the large flowered types. Some pansies that grow well in Georgia include the Springtime Yellow Blotch, Universal Plus Yellow Blotch, Happy White Face, and Imperial Pink Shades.

Pansies love to grow in full sun, but they also will grow and flower in part shade better than other annuals.

In most cases, pansies perform much better in the landscape if you do a good job of preparing the soil. Choose a location with well-drained soil. Pansies will not grow well in soil that stays constantly wet. Work 4 to 6 inches of organic matter, such as garden compost, peat moss, soil conditioner or well- rotted leaves, into the soil with a shovel or tiller.

Ideally, you should perform a soil test to determine how much fertilizer and limestone to add to the soil. Contact your county extension agent for instructions. Pansies grow best in a soil with a low pH, so little if any limestone is usually needed. They don’t need a high amount of fertilizer, so fertilize sparingly.

Plant pansies in the bed at about the same level they were growing in the packs or just slightly higher. Don’t plant them too deep, with soil covering the stem. After planting, cover the surface of the soil with 4 to 6 inches of mulch such as pine straw, pine bark or wheat straw. Water the bed thoroughly, immediately after planting to a depth of at least 6 to 8 inches. Remember to check the bed for watering in the first 3 weeks or until they establish a root system and begin growing.

Pansies have many applications in the winter landscape. They add drifts of single-colors to an otherwise dull winter landscape or as a mass planting with several colors mixed together. Use pansies in a flowerbed with colors appropriate for holidays such as red and white for Christmas. Pansies also perform well in containers placed on the deck or patio or next to the entrance to your home.

Resource(s): Success with Pansies in the Winter Landscape

Center Publication Number: 121

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  • Growing Pansies: A Colorful Display for Fall, Winter, and Spring – September 24, 2013

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