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Marietta Daisies Garden Club

All About Pansies

It's fall and we are looking for the plantings that will keep color in the graying months following summers end.

With the cheerful "faces" of the pansies flower, it a perfect choice.

They love cool weather and are popular in spring and fall.

They’re also edible, adding color to salads, drinks, and cakes.

About Pansies

Pansies are a type of Viola (Viola × wittrockiana) with large heart-shaped, overlapping petals and one of the widest ranges of bright, pretty colors and patterns.

Good for containers, borders, and as ground cover, they are a go-to flower for reliable color almost year-round in some places.

Are Pansies Annual or Perennial Flowers?

Most gardeners treat pansies (and all violas) as an annual, but they’re actually hardy in

USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8. They tend to get too leggy in the heat of summer.

Pansies are surprisingly hearty in cold weather, though. They’ll survive a frost, bouncing back from even single digit temperatures.

When to Plant Pansies

  • Pansies can be planted in the early spring or in the fall.

  • Pansies can be finicky to start from seed; it’s a lot easier to buy established plants from a local nursery.

  • But if you want to start from seed, start pansy seeds indoors in late winter 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost for early spring and summer flowering. Or, start seeds in late summer for fall and winter flowering. Pansy seeds may be slow to germinate (typically emerging in anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on soil temperature).

  • They grow best when soil temperatures are between 45°F and 65°F (7°C and 18°C).

  • Pansies can tolerate a light frost just after planting.

Where to Plant Pansies

  • Plant in moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil.

  • Pansies like full or partial sun, but need cooler temperatures to thrive. The ideal planting site will get morning sun but avoid the heat of the late afternoon.

  • Space the plants about 7 to 12 inches apart. They will spread about 9 to 12 inches and grow to be about 6 to 9 inches tall.

Pansies in Pots

  • Pansies are great for containers. Just use standard potting soil designed for containers.

  • Plant in portable containers (12 inches or less in diameter) so the plants can be moved to a cooler area when the sun starts to get stronger.

GROWING How to Care for Pansies

  • Remember to water pansies regularly. One of the most common reasons pansies fail is because they are not watered enough, so if your pansies are not doing well, try watering them more.

  • You can use a general, all-purpose fertilizer around your pansies to help them grow. Be wary of using a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer, though, as this can result in more foliage instead of flowers.

  • Remove faded/dead flowers to encourage the plants to produce more blooms and to prolong the blooming season.

WIT AND WISDOM Pansies symbolize “thinking” or “thoughts.”

The word “pansy” itself comes from French pensée, meaning “thought.”

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