Learn how to grow pansies, the cheerful, low-maintenance flower that thrives in cool weather. Discover expert tips on planting, care, and pest control for stunning fall and spring blooms that will brighten your garden or patio.

Imagine a burst of vibrant colors adorning your garden or patio even as the weather cools down. That’s the magic of pansies, the cheerful, cold-hardy flowers that thrive in both fall and spring. These low-maintenance blooms are a gardener’s dream, offering weeks of pretty flowers with minimal effort.

Whether you’re a seasoned plant enthusiast or a novice gardener, pansies are a fantastic choice to add a touch of whimsy and cheer to your landscape. Let’s chat about how to grow pansies and discover how to use these pretty blooms to spruce up your garden spaces.

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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.

growing a vibrant cluster of purple pansies with yellow centers in full bloom, surrounded by lush green foliage. The flowers display various shades of purple and a single yellow pansy is nestled amongst them, adding a splash of contrast to the scene.

Understanding Pansies Flowers

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.

  • Genus: Viola
  • Common Name: Pansy
  • Plant Type: Annual/Biennial/Perennial
  • Hardiness Zone: 6-10
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil Requirements: Well-drained, rich soil
  • Height: 6-9 inches
  • Width: 6-12 inches
  • Flower Color: Various colors (purple, yellow, blue, white, red, orange)
  • Foliage Color: Green
  • Bloom Time: Fall, Winter, Spring
A vibrant garden bed filled with blooming pansies. The foreground features delicate light purple pansies, while the background showcases deep purple and yellow pansies, creating a colorful and lively display of growing pansies flowers.

Planting Pansies

Pansies prefer well-draining soil that is slightly acidic or neutral and rich in organic matter. If you aren’t sure about your garden’s soil conditions, it’s a great idea to take a soil test. Kits can be picked up at your local nursery or cooperative extension.

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. Choose a spot that receives partial to full sun. Pansies love the sun but can tolerate a bit of shade. Ensure you are planting in an area with well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.

Plant your pansies about 6 inches apart to give them room to grow and spread. Dig a hole that is 2x the size of the rootball. Fan the roots, place in the hold, then backfill with existing or fresh garden soil. Then water well after planting.

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.

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.

A vibrant autumn scene features a variety of pumpkins and colorful flowers. Yellow pansies, white blooms, and pink chrysanthemums are surrounded by green foliage and fallen brown leaves. The pumpkins vary in size and color, including yellow, orange, and pale green—perfect inspiration for growing pansies flowers yourself.

How to Care for Pansies: A Step-by-Step Guide

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.
A garden with vibrant flowers featuring red, yellow, orange, and purple blossoms. A small birdhouse on a post sits among lush greenery. Potted red flowers and growing pansies are in the foreground with a charming house and a porch in the background.

Common Pest and Disease Problems With Pansies Flowers

In general, pansies are pretty pest and disease free. But even with the best care, pansies can sometimes fall victim to problems. Being able to identify and address these issues promptly is crucial for maintaining healthy plants and vibrant blooms. Here are some common culprits and how to address them organically.

Battling Aphids, Spider Mites & Slugs on Pansies: Organic Pest Control Solutions

  • Aphids: These tiny, sap-sucking insects can cluster on leaves and stems, causing them to wilt or become distorted. A strong spray of water or insecticidal soap can often help control them.
  • Spider Mites: These minuscule pests can be difficult to see, but their telltale signs include fine webbing and stippled leaves. Increase humidity and use a miticide if necessary.
  • Slugs and Snails: These slimy critters love to munch on pansy leaves and flowers, especially at night. Handpick them, use diatomaceous earth, or set out beer traps.
A rustic wooden barrel filled with a variety of vibrant flowers, including yellow pansies flower, purple and orange blooms, and green foliage. A small pumpkin nestles among the plants, adding a touch of autumn to the scene, creating an ideal display for those interested in growing pansies flowers.
Fall garden in a whiskey barrel

Pansy SOS: Dealing With Fungal Problems

  • Powdery Mildew: This fungal disease appears as a white powdery coating on leaves. Improve air circulation, avoid overhead watering, and apply a fungicide if needed.
  • Root Rot: Overwatering or poorly draining soil can lead to root rot, causing plants to wilt and die. Ensure proper drainage and avoid overwatering. A fungicide drench can sometimes help if caught early.
  • Leaf Spot: This fungal disease manifests as brown or black spots on leaves. Remove affected leaves and avoid overhead watering. A fungicide may be necessary for severe cases.

Prevention is Key

The best way to deal with pests and diseases is to prevent them in the first place. Choose healthy plants, provide proper care, and maintain good sanitation practices in your garden. Regular inspection of your pansies will help you catch any problems early on, when they’re easiest to manage.

Ornate stone planter with purple pansies, surrounded by smooth pebbles, placed in a vibrant garden. In the background are blooming tulips, green plants, and leafy trees. The scene exudes a tranquil and lush spring ambiance.

Growing Pansies Flowers in Pots

Growing pansies in pots is a great way to add a burst of color to your patio, balcony, or doorstep. 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.

Choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging, and fill it with a well-draining potting mix rich in organic matter. Plant your pansies at the same depth they were in their original containers, spacing them a few inches apart to allow for growth.

Place the pot in a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily, and water regularly, ensuring the soil remains consistently moist but not soggy. 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.

Fertilize your container pansies with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to provide essential nutrients.

With minimal effort, you’ll soon be rewarded with an abundance of colorful blooms that will brighten your surroundings throughout the season. Pansies are quite forgiving and can tolerate some neglect, making them an ideal choice for both novice and experienced gardeners alike.

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.

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

A large, ornate planter holds a vibrant arrangement of purple pansies and yellow flowers. The planter sits on a bed of smooth stones, with a lush garden and trees in the background under a partly cloudy sky—an inspiring sight for anyone interested in how to grow pansies.

Growing Pansies Flowers FAQs: Answers to the Most Commonly Asked Questions

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.

A garden scene with various plants and flowers. In the foreground, there are hostas with yellow-tinged leaves, vibrant yellow pansies flower with dark centers, and pink sedum flowers. In the background, a lush green plant is in a terracotta pot. Bright yellow flowers fill the background.

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.

A garden bed filled with blooming purple and blue pansies flower, surrounded by lush green foliage. Sunlight softly illuminates the flowers, casting gentle shadows and highlighting the vibrant colors.

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.

Close-up of several white pansy flowers with yellow centers, surrounded by lush green leaves. The petals appear delicate and some have droplets of water on them, indicating they may be freshly watered or after a rain shower. This serene setting provides a beautiful example of growing pansies flowers in your garden.

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.

  • 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.
Close-up of bright yellow pansies flower with dark maroon centers, surrounded by lush green foliage. Some of the petals have water droplets, suggesting recent rain or watering. The background includes various green leaves, adding to the vibrant garden scene—an inspiring sight for anyone interested in growing pansies flowers.

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.
A close-up of a hand placing a purple pansy on a cake decorated with colorful pansies and green leaves. The cake is frosted with light-colored icing and is set against a blurred background of beige and gray furniture. This delightful scene will remind you of the beauty of growing pansies 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!
A layered naked cake adorned with colorful pansies flowers sits on a clear glass cake stand outdoors. The cake is decorated with vibrant purple, yellow, and pink blooms, with additional flowers scattered on the rock base around the stand. Greenery is visible in the background.

Final Thoughts on Growing Pansies Flowers

With their cheerful faces and vibrant colors, pansies are a fun addition to any garden, patio, or balcony. Their resilience and adaptability make them perfect for both seasoned gardeners and beginners, and their long blooming season ensures months of enjoyment.

Whether you choose to plant them in the ground or in pots, pansies are sure to bring a smile to your face every time you see them. So why wait? Embrace the joy of growing pansies and add a touch of whimsy and color to your world.

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?

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear! And feel free to share this post with anyone you think would find it helpful too.

To drill down on more beginner gardening techniques and tips, please read these posts:

For. more information about growing pansies, please read: Utah State Cooperative Extension

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling" written in a cursive font with a watercolor-style pink pansies flower on the left side of the text.
A close-up of blooming pansies flowers in various colors such as light purple and yellow. Text overlay reads, "GROWING PANSIES: AN EASY CARE FLOWER FOR FALL & SPRING" with the website "stacyling.com" at the bottom.
A woman wearing a straw hat and overalls is smiling while tending to a garden filled with tall green plants and flowers, including vibrant pansies. She is standing in front of a small shed, behind a wooden picket fence with small terracotta pots placed on the stakes.

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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!