Pansies are colorful flowers with faces. Pansies are a cool-weather favorite and a great addition to spring and fall gardens! How to grow pansies, get them to grow and bloom and Check out our helpful tips on growing pansies, including planting, dying, and fertilizing. Plus, learn about some of the beautiful strains we recommend for growing!
Pansies have heart shapes, overlapping petals and one of the widest ranges of bright, pretty colors and patterns.
They do well in containers, borders, and ground cover, and in some places are a popular flower most of the year with dependable color. Pansies can look solitary in a monochromatic scheme or mixed color; they also look beautiful when grown with other cool-season flowers like violets, primroses, drooping lobels, and sweet centella.
Are pansy flowers annual or perennial?
Depending on the climate, pansies can be considered annuals or perennials. However, most gardeners consider this plant an annual because it prefers cool weather and grows too long in the heat of summer. Breeding heat-resistant pansies that will survive hot weather adequately has not been very successful.
In cold weather, however, pansies are surprisingly plentiful. They survive freezing and even recover from single-digit temperatures. When the flowers wilt in the cold, the plant usually stays alive and blooms again, making it a great flowering plant for fall and early winter color.
When to Plant Pansy
Pansies can be planted in early spring or fall.
Pansies can be finicky when starting from seed. It is much easier to buy mature plants from a local nursery. Plus, you’ll get flowers earlier.
But if you want to start from seed, start pansy seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost in late winter for early spring and summer blooms. Or start seeds in late summer for fall and winter blooms. Pansy seeds can germinate slowly (usually after 1 to 3 weeks, depending on soil temperature).
Place pansies in the ground when they are available in spring. They grow best when the soil temperature is between 7°C and 18°C.
Pansies can tolerate light frost immediately after planting, but try not to plant them in the ground when temperatures are still often below freezing.
Where to Grow Pansy
Plant in moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil. For more information, see our articles on soil improvement and preparing soil for planting.
Pansies like full or partial sun, but need cooler temperatures to thrive. The ideal planting site has morning sun, but avoids the afternoon heat.
Space plants about 7 to 12 inches apart. They are about 9 to 12 inches long and about 6 to 9 inches tall.
Pansies in a pot
Pansies are great for containers. Just use standard container potting soil.
Place plants in portable containers (12 inches in diameter or smaller) so they can move to cooler areas when the sun gets stronger. A south-facing patio can be the perfect spot at the start of spring or fall. In summer, place pansies on the east side of your home for morning sun and afternoon shade.
If you like the variety of colors but want a sense of cohesion, choose plants from the same collection. Regardless of the color, they will be similar in size and markings.
Bolero series: large, disheveled, semi-double; good-looking in spring and autumn
Bingo Collection: Large flowers in 14 colors from light blue to burgundy; blooms earlier than the popular Majestic Giants collection
Cool Wave Series: Fast-growing, strong flowering; plants have the habit of spreading, such as Cool Wave Petunia. Good “separator” for containers and gondolas
Freefall Series: Neutral hanging plants; ideal for containers
Joker series: very distinctive faces; two-tone complementary colors
Princess Collection: compact habit and delicate blooms; monochromatic shades from cream to deep purple with a yellow center
Where to grow pansies
Pansies are versatile and are great for growing in all types of pots and containers, or collectively in pots alone; mixed with other plants or planted under large shrubs. They thrive in full sun with partial shade.
In borders, pansies can be displayed alone or mixed with other bedding plants. They are also great for filling bald spots. They are the perfect partner for spring bulbs such as tulips, as bulbs grow in and between flowering pansies.
How to plant pansies
Plant pansies from late summer to mid/fall to bloom in winter and the following spring. They can also be planted in spring to early summer, blooming during the growing season.
Spacing depends on planting time and cultivar size. Planting from late summer to early fall is ideal, as pansies have time to establish before winter. The distance is 15 cm for bush varieties and 20-25 cm for hanging varieties. The same spacing works for spring-planted pansies.
Pansies planted in mid-autumn should be planted more closely (shrub pansies about 10 cm apart and hanging varieties 15 cm apart), as they won’t grow as much until the temperatures drop.
Grow pansies in pots using a good quality all-purpose potting soil. At the border, start by putting some rotted garden soil or potting compost to improve the soil.
How to care for pansies
Keeping pansies watered during droughts and pouring water over the soil instead of spraying the leaves can help prevent the spread of fungal diseases. Apply liquid fertilizer or a controlled-release fertilizer every two weeks from spring to fall.
Regularly remove wilted and dead flowers, which will encourage the plant to keep producing new flowers. Either hold them between your fingers and thumb, or use pruning shears or pruning shears to cut off the dead ends.
How to Grow Pansies from Seed
Unless the plant is headless, pansies will drop seeds that are prone to rooting. In cooler climates, you may find that next spring will bring a large group of willing seedlings where the old plants are.
However, most pansies are F1 hybrids, and they produce seeds that do not grow into plants that resemble their parents. You may get flowers that have reverted to one of the genetic parents of the hybrid. This isn’t always a bad thing, as you’ll definitely appreciate surprising results. For example, a bed of pansies planted one year may self-seek into a group of willing Johnny hops (pansies) the following year, as pansies are one of the parents of many hybrid pansies.
The best way to grow hybrid pansies from seed is to buy commercial F1 hybrid seeds, which are made by hand pollinating one species with pollen from another species.
Stratifying pansy seeds every two weeks will help improve germination rates. Pour the small seeds over a tray of seed starter mix, wet the tray and cover with black plastic until the seeds sprout (about two weeks). Pansies need darkness to germinate. Then remove the plastic and place the tray on the light spot to keep the soil moist. When seedlings are a few inches tall and have at least two pairs of true leaves, transplant them into small pots and allow them to grow in a well-lit area until they can be transplanted outdoors. Harden the seedlings for two weeks and gradually acclimate them to outdoor conditions before planting them outdoors.
How to propagate pansies
Pansies can be grown from seeds. Sow indoors from February to April and bloom in late spring to fall. To plant pansies that bloom in fall and winter, sow seeds from May to July.
When shopping for nursery plants, choose stout, bushy pansies. Avoid plants full of open shoots, as they can get stressed to the point of exhaustion from toiling in small pots.
If you can keep your pansies in your garden and rest during the hottest months, chances are they will start blooming again in the fall. Decreasing them when the plants start to seed will encourage new growth. Deheading (cutting dead shoots from healthy plants) encourages more shoots. In warmer regions, pansies may look a little tired in midwinter, but when the temperatures warm a little, they do well and look beautiful in late winter and early spring.
Light: Pansies bloom best in full sun to partial shade, but if grown in partial shade, they will look fresher and bloom longer.
Ground: While pansies aren’t finicky plants, they do best in loose, rich soil with a slightly acidic pH (6.0 to 6.2). They are heavy feeders, so amend the soil with mushroom compost to give them a head start.
Water: Regular watering will help them last longer, but don’t expect your pansies to last an entire season. Pansies prefer moist but not soggy soil. Make sure to use a container with drainage holes, or if planting in the ground, make sure the soil is well-drained.
Temperature and humidity: Pansies don’t like heat at all, and as the weather warms, pansies will decrease.
Fertilizer: As with any long-blooming annual, pansies love some fertilizer. However, too much food just makes them leggy. They respond well to monthly foliar feeding. Use a balanced fertilizer according to label directions.
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