Looking for a low maintenance flower that’s easy to grow and blooms in fall and spring? Learn how to grow pansies flowers with these simple tips.

Pansies are on of the most popular garden flowers and come in a wide range of colors and markings. The most commonly recognized pansies have “faces” that are sure to make anyone smile!

Many are surprised to learn that in some gardening zones, you can plant pansies in the fall and they’ll bounce back in spring.

They certainly do that in my zone 6a garden which is a great way to get two seasons of color from this beautiful flowering annual instead of just one.

Learn how to grow pansies flowers with these simple tips.

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About Pansies

Pansy flowers, also knows as Viola x wittrockiana, have a USDA hardiness zone of 7-11 but perform best during the cool days of spring and fall when the temperature is about 40° F at night to 60° F during the day.

Thus, pansies are grown as a cool season annual. So they are generally planted in the fall or early spring for their beautiful blooms during the cooler months.

Pansies do not love summer temperatures. When planted in spring, they will not survive the summer. However, when planted in fall, they can bounce back after winter in some hardiness zones.

In areas where long periods without frost are common, pansy plants can bloom throughout the winter.

Pansies are quick growers with heart-like blooms. The plant itself is pretty compact, not more than 8 inches in both height and spread.

Pansies are not deer resistant flowers and need protection. I usually spray them with this deer repellent that I’ve been using for several years now. However, there are lots of other great deer repellent options that work equally as well too.

close up of purple pansies and violas

Planting Pansies

Pansies prefer well-draining soil that is slightly acidic or neutral and rich in organic matter. A slow release fertilizer works well during the growing season. It’s a great set-and-forget approach that makes it easier to feed them.

Pansies generally prefer full to partial sun. In cooler climates, they can tolerate more sun, while in warmer regions, they appreciate afternoon shade to help protect them from scorching heat.

If you’ve never planted them before, it’s super easy to do. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Location: Choose a spot that receives partial to full sun. Pansies love the sun but can tolerate a bit of shade.
  • Soil Preparation: Ensure well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Pansies prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil.
  • Spacing: Plant your pansies about 6 inches apart to give them room to grow and spread.
  • Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water at the base of the plant to prevent fungal issues.

These low-maintenance flowers are excellent choices for low borders, front of the borders, containers and window boxes.

They work well when planted between other flowers too like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths in the spring or chrysanthemums in the fall. Pansies flowers bloom soon after the earliest bulbs and will continue until summer flowers take over.

pansies and pumpkins with garden mums on the porch

Care for Pansies

Pansies are super easy flowers to grow. They really don’t require much if you don’t have a lot of time, making them a great flower for beginners or those who need a plant that’s less needy. And they are relatively pest and disease free too.

Here’s what you need to know.

  • Watering: Water the base of plants where roots need it the most. Avoid overhead watering as it is less efficient and can promote unwanted pest and disease problems
  • Deadheading: Remove spent flowers regularly to encourage continuous blooming and prevent seed formation. While deadheading is encouraged, I don’t always get a chance to deadhead my pansies flowers and they still bloom really well all season long.
  • Fertilizing: Feed your pansies with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer at planting to promote healthy growth.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of your pansies to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Pruning and Pinching: Trim back leggy growth or prune pansy plants if they become straggly. Pinching back the stems can promote bushier growth and more blooms.
  • Winter Protection: In colder regions, protect pansies from harsh winter conditions with a layer of mulch. In my zone 6a garden, I just leave them be and they bounce back the following spring.
fall garden plants with rudbeckia, sedum autumn joy and garden mums with white birdhouse

Pansy FAQs

Whether you’re a seasoned or beginner gardener, there are lots of commonly asked questions that can provide valuable insights into the care and cultivation of these charming beauties.

Do pansies come back every year?

Pansies are typically grown as cool-season annuals, which means they are often treated as short-lived plants and replanted each year.

Here in the Northeast, pansies are planted in both the fall and spring to provide colorful blooms throughout those seasons. However, as temperatures rise in the summer, pansies tend to decline and die.

Instead of buying new plants for spring and fall, give it whirl this fall to see if they will overwinter and return in your garden next spring.

This is a great way to save money on annual plants while providing seasonal color in your gardens.

Keep in mind, their return is not guaranteed but worth a shot if you’ve never tried it before. Simply leave them be instead of pulling them when doing fall clean up and see how they do in spring.

fall garden flowers with sedum autumn joy, chrysanthemums and hostas and pansies

Do pansies prefer sun or shade?

Pansies prefer full sun to partial shade. If I want to get more time out of them in late spring, I will relocate them to full shade so they can live a bit longer in my zone 6a garden before they completely die out.

I don’t always do this though because I usually only get an extra few weeks out of them and to me, it’s not really worth the effort.

How can I keep my pansies blooming all summer?

Keeping pansies blooming throughout the summer can be a challenge because they are cool-season flowers that die out in the heat of summer.

You can try to keep them going for as long as you can by moving them to shadier locations, mulching them well, and keeping them well-hydrated. But even with these practices, I can’t get them to keep going beyond early July.

So I would keep your expectations low unless you live in a cooler climate where summers are not scorching hot.

close up of purple pansies in the front porch cottage garden in fall

Should I cut back pansies?

Yes, cutting back pansies is a good practice to promote healthier growth and extend their blooming season. Here‘s what you need to know.

  • Regularly deadheading pansies flowers throughout the growing season encourages them to produce more flowers and keeps them looking tidy. Use your fingers, sharp scissors or garden snips to cut off the dead flowers just above a set of healthy leaves.
  • If pansies become tall and leggy with long, straggly stems, trim them back to encourage bushier growth. Use clean scissors or garden snips and cut back plant stems by about one-third. This promotes lateral branching and more compact growth.
  • After overwintering, in the early spring remove any dead or damaged foliage and trim back leggy growth to clean up the plant.
  • If you started them from seed, pinch back the growing tips of young pansy plants when they have developed several sets of leaves. This will stimulate the growth of lateral branches, resulting in a more compact plant and blooms.

Regularly cutting back or deadheading pansies not only keeps them looking tidy but also helps maintain their overall health and encourages a longer blooming season.

white pansies flowers close up

How do I propagate pansies?

Because pansies are so readily available, I recommend just buying them when nurseries get them in.

I love to grow lots of plants from seed, but pansies are not one of them. For me, I’d rather use my indoor growing space for flowers that are not readily available for purchase than ones I can easily buy at the garden nursery.

Money Saving Garden Tip: If you can only find pansies in larger nursery pots (more often in the fall than spring) and want to save a few dollars, you can divide it to get more plants from them. Here’s how to do it.

  • Remove the plant from the nursery container.
  • With a hand trowel or even your fingers, divide the plant into small sections. 
  • Then plant them in the garden or planters.
  • Water and fertilize well.
bright yellow pansies

Can I grow pansies in containers?

Yes, pansies are an excellent choice for container gardening! In fact, they are one of the most popular and widely used flowers for container plantings.

And because they are so easy to grow, it’s a great flower for newbie flower gardeners to grow. Here are some reasons why pansies are a great choice for planters.

  • Compact Size: Pansies are compact plants that grow to a height of 6 to 9 inches, making them well-suited for different sized containers.
  • Cool-Season Blooms: Pansies are cool-season flowers, which means they perform exceptionally well in containers during the fall and spring when temperatures are cooler. They can provide color and interest to your containers when other plants may not be in bloom.
  • Color Variety: Pansies come in a wide range of colors and patterns, allowing you to create beautiful and vibrant container garden displays.
  • Versatility: You can mix and match pansies with other cool-season annuals like celosia, snapdragons, or ornamental kale to create stunning container combinations.
Whiskey barrell planted with plants for fall garden such as garden mums and pansies with a pumpkin
Fall garden in a whiskey barrel

How to Plant Pansies in Container Gardens

Pansies are well-suited to grow in containers making them a perfect option for those just beginning their flower gardening journey or with limited growing spaces.

Follow these tips for planting pansies in container gardens.

  • Use a high-quality potting soil mix.
  • Ensure that your containers have drainage holes to prevent waterlogged soil. If containers lack drainage holes, drill a few before adding potting mix to the planter.
  • Site containers in a full to part sun location.
  • Water your container pansies consistently to keep the soil evenly moist, especially during dry spells. Container plants may require more frequent watering than those in the ground. I love using a drip irrigation system set on a timer so it is set and forget.
  • Deadhead spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming.
  • Fertilize your container pansies with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to provide essential nutrients.

Popping a few pansies into containers will brighten up patios, balconies, and other outdoor living spaces with their cheerful colors and cool-season beauty.

early spring container garden with pansies and sweet alyssum together with white daffodils, pink tulips and flowering crababpples

Are pansies edible?

Yes, pansies are edible and they are often used as decorative additions to salads, cakes, desserts, and other culinary creations. Their vibrant and delicate flowers add a pop of color and a mild, slightly grassy or wintergreen flavor to dishes.

But a few words of caution before snipping pansies for a recipe.

  • Only choose flowers that have not been treated with any form of pesticide
  • Select plants that are certified as organically grown or grow your own
  • If found in your local grocery produce department, they are specifically grown for consumption and are safe to eat.
  • Never use roadside flowers
  • Garden nursery plants may have been treated with fertilizers and pesticides, so these are not great options for using as edibles.
  • Purchase edible flowers from a reputable florist, nursery, or market where they can guide you to what is safe for consumption.
attaching the pansies to a naked cake with flowers
Adding pansies flowers to a cake with mint from the garden

When using pansies in food, it’s important to keep the following guidelines in mind.

  • Choose edible varieties using the guidelines above.
  • Always rinse them thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Use the petals only.
  • Pansies are often used to decorate cakes, pastries, and other desserts. They can also be used to garnish salads, soups, and appetizers.
  • You can candy pansy petals by brushing them with a light coating of egg white, sprinkling them with sugar, and allowing them to dry. Candied pansies make lovely decorations for cakes and sweets. I’ve never done this before but would try it!
  • Freeze pansy petals in ice cubes to add a touch of elegance to your beverages. It can really level up a cocktail!
close up of a naked cake with pansy flowers and mint on a stone wall on a glass cake stand

More About Growing Pansies Flowers

Do you love to grow pansies too? Have you ever tried planting them in fall so they bounce back in spring? Have you ever started pansies from seed? I would love to know more in the comments below.

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Garden Supplies I Use

I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

dahlia kogane fubuki in the potager garden

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close up of purple pansies flowers
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chinese evergreen and white amaryllis flower with a clock

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Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

Want to learn more about me?

I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. With a deep passion for gardening, I enjoy helping others find their inner green thumb with all things plants and flowers, as well as finding ways to bring the outdoors inside their homes.

Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

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6 Comments

  1. Stacy, loved this post. Pansies were one on my moms favorite. She was really good at growing them as well. I tried a few this past spring and you’ve inspires me to plant more! 🪴 thank you! Susan

  2. I love pansies! And I know my readers will enjoy this post as much as I did so I am sharing it this weekend with them! Have a great weekend Stacy!