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With their vibrant colors and unique patterns, pansies are a popular choice for ornamental flower borders and container gardens. These hardy plants add a burst of color to any garden with their cheerful appearance and long blooming season.

If you’re new to growing pansies, here’s everything you need to know about growing and caring for these low-maintenance bedding plants.

pansies
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

What are pansies?

Pansies (Viola tricolor var. hortensis) are low-growing, compact flowering plants with heart-shaped bright green leaves and large, flat-faced blooms. Pansy flowers come in a stunning array of colors, including shades of purple, blue, yellow, white, and red, often featuring a distinctive dark blotch or “face” in the center.

They generally reach about 6 to 9 inches in height and are appreciated for their extended blooming periods in spring and fall, especially in climates where temperatures remain cool.

Pansies can be grown as either perennial or annual plants, depending on the climate where they are grown. In regions with mild winters, pansies are often treated as perennials because they can survive and bloom year-round. However, in colder climates, gardeners usually plant pansies in the spring or fall to enjoy their vibrant blooms for a single growing season.

Related: 28 Sun Loving Perennials That Can Handle the Heat

How to grow pansies

Growing pansies successfully involves selecting the right location, preparing the soil, and understanding their care requirements. Take a look at our step-by-step guide to help you get started:

pansies
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Step 1: Choose the right location

Location is important when planting pansies. Pansies thrive in full sun to partial shade. Select a spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily. In hotter climates, some afternoon shade can help protect the plants from intense heat and keep them flowering for longer.

Step 2: Prepare the soil

Pansies grow best in well-draining, fertile soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Enrich the soil with organic matter, such as compost, to boost nutrient levels and improve water retention.

Step 3: Planting time

Plant pansies in early spring or fall, depending on your climate. Young pansies are susceptible to frost damage, so for spring planting, wait until the soil has warmed up and all danger of frost has passed. For fall planting, plant pansies six to eight weeks before the first expected frost.

Step 4: Spacing

Space pansy plants about 6 to 10 inches apart to allow for good air circulation and room to grow. Pansies planted in the fall can be grown closer together as they will not grow as much as spring pansies.

Step 5: Planting depth

Plant pansies at the same depth they were in their nursery pots, making sure the entire rootball is below the soil surface. Make sure to firm the soil around the roots and water well after planting.

Propagating Pansies

Pansies are readily available from garden stores but can also be propagated from seeds or cuttings. 

To start pansies from seed, sow seeds indoors in seed trays 10 to 12 weeks before the last expected frost. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and keep them moist and warm until germination takes place. Once seedlings have developed a few true leaves, they can be transplanted outdoors.

Cuttings can be taken from vigorous, healthy pansies in late summer. Take cuttings from non-flowering stems, dip them in rooting hormone, and plant them in a sand/compost mix. Keep the cuttings moist and in a shaded area until roots develop, then transplant them to their permanent location.

Related: 12 Herbs to Propagate from Cuttings for Endless Supply

How to Care for Pansies

Pansies with purple and yellow shades
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Watering

Pansies do not tolerate drought, so keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water pansies deeply once a week, more often in hot or dry conditions. Avoid splashing water onto the leaves to reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

Fertilizing

Pansies have low nutrient requirements and will grow well in soil that has been enriched with organic matter. In poor soils, feed pansies with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two to three weeks. Alternatively, slow-release fertilizer granules can be added to the soil at planting time to provide a steady supply of nutrients.

15 Natural Plant Fertilizers Made from Everyday Waste to Feed Your Garden

Mulching

Pansies will benefit from a layer of mulch around the plants to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Deadheading

Regularly remove spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming and prevent the pansies from setting seed.

Winter care

In colder climates, pansies will go dormant in the winter and can be protected from frost with horticultural fleece or a thick layer of mulch.

When do pansies flower?

pansies in pot
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Pansies have unique blooming habits and can flower at various times of the year, depending on the local climate and when they were planted. Most gardeners tend to grow pansies as a cool-weather flowering plant, as they can bloom in spring, fall, and even throughout mild winters.

In temperate regions, pansies planted in the fall can bloom from late fall through early spring. In cooler climates, they tend to be planted in early spring for a colorful display that lasts into early summer.

How long do pansies last?

Pansies are generally considered cool-season annuals or short-lived perennials, and how long they last will depend on the climate and care they receive:

  • In cooler climates, pansies may only last a single season before perishing in winter. These pansies can continue to flower in the summer if planted in the shade.
  • Pansies grown in hotter climates can persist through the winter and bloom again in the following season but will normally perish in the heat of summer.
  • In moderate climates, pansies can survive and bloom all year round if protected from frost and summer drought.

Common Pests and Problems

Luckily, pansies are not susceptible to many problems, making the trouble-free plant a popular choice among gardeners. Pansy plants may be affected by aphids in the spring, but these are normally controlled by beneficial insects like ladybugs.

Slugs and snails can chew holes in pansy leaves and flowers during prolonged periods of wet weather but rarely do significant damage.

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that appears as a white, powdery coating on leaves. It is not normally fatal but can stunt growth and reduce flowering.

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This post originally appeared on Homestead How-To: How to Grow Pansies

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