Pansies: How to Grow Pansies
You are looking at adding pansies to your garden, and perhaps, one of your questions is: when is a good time to plant these rounded, flat-faced flowers.
That’s a good question, because many gardeners mistakenly introduce a new variety of plant in the wrong season, so they end up staring at yellowish leaves and decaying stems – which is a normal slip everyone experiences when they begin gardening.
For pansies, here are the basics.
Pansies are large-flowered hybrid plants grown as garden flowers. These flowers are 2 to 3 inches in diameter and they have two overlapping petals at the top, one petal at the bottom, and two petals at both sides. White, yellow, blue and purple are the common colors of the petals.
The plant can grow 9 inches in height and likes sun exposure to varying degrees. These plants love well-drained soils, so make sure you have good drainage whether you plant them on the ground or in pots.
If you know snapdragons or violas and the best time they are planted in a year, then you can have a good idea of when is the perfect time to plant pansies. Pansies, just like those two examples, are cool climate flowers.
Now you have an advantage if you happen to be growing violas in your garden. The fact is: all pansies are violas, but not the other way around. There is a bit of difference in approach, but practically, you will not have a hard time growing pansies if you already have violas there.
With snapdragons on the other hand, you can have two types which you can mix in your flower bed as the year approaches the spring season. Snapdragons and pansies are both cold-tolerant, but often they do not survive severe weather conditions.
You can grow pansies indoors through the winter season, but make sure the range is maintained for the best temperatures to grow these flowers.
Facts About Pansies
Pansies are early flowering plants, blooming right alongside bulbs in spring. The garden pansy is achieved by hybridization that involves several species from the Melanium section of the Viola genus.
The name “pansy” is derived from the French word “pensée”, which means “thought” in English. The flower looks like a human face and in mid-summer, the “face” appears to be nodding forward, looking like someone in deep thought. French people believe that these flowers can make your lover think of you.
The plant is particularly derived from Viola tricolor, a wildflower in western Asia and Europe known as the heartsease. The exact place of origin is Iver, Buckinghamshire, England.
In the beginning of 1800 in Iver, an inquisitive person named Lord Gambier, along with his gardener named William Thompson, started crossing various species of Viola. The blue-flowered species was thought to be of Russian origin.
The crossing experiments had the goal of producing unusual colors and color combinations, as well as increasing the sizes of the plant’s flowers.
William Thompson then discovered a cross that started a new species with a bloom that had no dark lines on the petals, but had big blocks of colors at the bottom called “the face”.
By 1850, different new strains became available to Europeans and people from England, Switzerland and Scotland were breeding more strains. The plants were imported across the Atlantic and gardeners from North America welcomed these new flowers.
I welcome these flowers as well to my home, and welcome them with all my heart. I have pansy plants and in the morning, I can see big yellow-faced pansies looking up with their faces towards the blue sky.
During the pansy season, I go to garden centers and eagerly pick trays of pansy flowers. Then, I make them grace my balcony garden with their beauty, vitality and energy.
Pansies perform best in cool weathers, so plant them in spring or fall. The soil should be rich and well-drained and full of organic matter. The plants can be exposed to full or partial sun.
During summer, do some pruning on the plants. Remove spent flowers as often as you can. You can use the dry flowers for mulching to maintain soil moisture. When cooler months return, you will be rewarded with a second set of blooms.
Check the frost time in your area; you can have the plants remaining sitting outside a month before that time. After seven days or so of having them indoors, you can put them back to your growing beds.
If winter is mild in your area, you can let the plants remain exposed outside during that time, and when spring comes, they will give you magnificent, fresh blooms. When temperatures fall below freezing point, you can add a layer of straw mulch to protect the plants through the cold months.
Pansies are fairly compact and grow fast, with each plant producing several stems. So the appearance is generally spreading to all directions. Some of the species self-sow readily, which is characteristically the same with some species of their cousins the Violas.
Pansies have heart-shaped, overlapping flower petals. The flowers sport one of widest ranges of bright colors and patterns among garden plants.
Basically, you can grow the pansy plant up to 8 inches in height and width. Use 5 to 7 inches of space between plants as average distance.
There are size variations for the flowers. They are considered “large” if they measure 3 – 4 inches in diameter, and for 1 – 2 inches of spread, the flowers fall under the size category of “multiflora”.
If the plants have flopping stems and exhibiting sparse growth, they can look so untidy. Cut the leggy parts to about 6 inches tall and use clippers when cutting. After cutting, put 1 tsp. of fertilizer over the garden bed (1 tsp. per square foot).
Pansy leaves wear a medium green hue. These are coarsely notched leaves that are oval or heart-shaped. The small notches form around the edges, but they are hairless and smooth to the touch. Overall, the appearance is akin to a rosette.
The foliage of the pansy plant has a medium to fine texture with colors ranging from medium to dark green. If the pansy plant is healthy, it will display bright green foliage.
The pansy flower has five round petals, and may have a single solid color or a single color with black lines. Generally, these flowers have a different color in the center compared to the color around the edges.
Depending on the cultivar, the pansy flowers can come in a range of colors and measure 1 – 4 inches from one edge to the opposite edge. The scent is light and sweet with them being most fragrant in the early morning and at dusk.
Color and Size
The pansy plants flood the landscape with cheer after a long white or brown winter. But never to forget that they can add a punch of maroon, maize or a pumpkin to a dying September garden, too. Many of the varieties can overwinter and return in full beauty the following spring.
The plant usually does not grow beyond 6 inches tall, but watch out because these plants can form thick mats of vegetation, so prune these plants as needed.
Fill your hanging baskets, borders, hanging baskets, and window boxes with some of these wonderful pansy varieties.
Yellow with Red Wing
The pansy red wing red-gold yellow can last up two years, and since they grow up to 6 inches tall, they are great for borders and edges and also for flower beds. You can move the small plants when they become easy to handle after sowing. The red-winged flowers have a red cap and yellow lower petals.
Colossus Yellow with Blotch
Colossus yellow with blotch is a simple yet beautiful pansy choice. It features a dark blotch in the center of a vibrant yellow bloom. Some seeds from sellers grow up to produce flowers that face upward, a habit that prevents them from stretching too much during the hot season.
Mammoth Glamarama White
These plants really love cool weathers, and when properly taken care of, they will go on to yield jumbo-sized white blooms with blotch. This is a heat-tolerant variety, and if you plan to sell their flowers, you will love that they are stretch-resistant for sales in either spring or fall.
Frizzle Sizzle Raspberry
If you’ve been wondering what plants can bring your garden to life after the winter season is over, this is one of your best options. The brilliant raspberry colored blossoms will fill your garden at exactly this time of the year.
The flowers come with whiff of fragrance and the plants will give you incredible flowering performance. They are ideal for brightening up your beds, window boxes and containers.
Inspire Purple with Orange
Inspire Purple with Orange pansies have the great ability to withstand heat and the cold northern winters. These plants do not stretch that easily and they bloom over a long period of time. This extremely vigorous variety grows up to 6 inches. The extra-large blooms mean that you will be better able to enjoy looking at their “faces” when you see them from your window.
Pansy Ultima Morpho
Resembling its ancestors’ delightful allure with larger blooms of azure hues complementing the gold, Ultima Morpho is as breathtaking as the butterfly from which it got its name.
Brilliantly floriferous, this variety can thrive both in spring and fall climates. Its bright flowers proudly lift their faces to the sky so long as they are given the environmental conditions in which they grow best.
Pansy Cool Wave Sunshine ‘n Wine
This plant trails over 2 feet long, displaying splendid whiskered flowers every inch of the way. It grows faster and larger than other varieties with the tendency to be bushy. The flowers are bright and can spread up to 2 inches with the colors yellow gold and burgundy contrasting each other on the petals. The plant overwinters magnificently.
Pansy Desiderio Tricolor Orchid
A highly appealing pansy variety, the Desiderio Tricolor comes with contrasting white and rose shades. The white of the petals contrasts sharply with its pinkish shades and complements the ruffling at the edges. This annual plant grows in the early spring and reaches a height of up to 8 inches.
Nature Rose Picotee Pansy
The Nature Rose Picotee Pansy is your best choice if you’re looking for a variety that is heat tolerant and can rebound quickly from frost and rain. This is one variety that is highly used in landscape applications. They produce a lot of flowers and they don’t grow leggy even as temperatures start warming.
Here is a good variety that has a vigorous, well-branched habit. For landscaping purposes, WonderFall Pansy can cover up to 75% of the ground area, which is about 10% higher compared to what other varieties can cover.
The flowers of this pansy protrude from almost every part of the plant. So, you will see blooms from the crown to the tip. This is an aesthetic advantage if you’re thinking of putting them on baskets or containers.
How to Grow Pansies
The best condition for growing your pansies is as follow:
Pansies thrive well when growing on rich loam soil, but there should be sufficient moisture available so that the soil does not easily dry. Soil pH should be between 5.4 and 5.8 for best growth.
To accommodate the need of the plants to grow on well-draining soil, put organic materials such as well-rotted manure and leaves 4 inches deep before planting them.
Pansies need light 16 hours a day and you need to give them light until they germinate. As they do not germinate at the same time, you can move individual containers to the lights as they do.
Pansies need broad spectrum light to bloom, which means full exposure to sunlight or you use halides. Fluorescent light might not be enough for this requirement.
Consistent moisture keeps pansy flowers supple and soft. However, their roots cannot tolerate soggy soil. During the growing season, water them regularly, but you also need to allow the soil to dry before watering again. When the soil is dry, it also enables these plants to tolerate cold temperatures better and harden off faster.
Temperature & Humidity
The best range for temperature when planting pansies is 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you plant too early when the temperature is above 65 degrees, you will end up with leggy pansies, yellowish leaves and few flowers. Growing seedlings can survive frost though a deep freeze can kill the foliage.
Maintain 40%-50% relative humidity around the plants, and if you need to increase air moisture, place your pots on trays of wet pebbles.
All plants need fertile soil, and for pansies, adding granular or time-release nutrition can go a long way for them. Mulching, morning sun and plenty of water are important for them to healthily grow and flower.
Use organic mulch to put around the plants, but do not put mulch too close to the base. Aside from the nutrition supply, the mulch will also deter weeds. Bloodmeal for pansies is also a good fertilizer, as well as a repellant against rabbits.
Cutting back pansy stems, leaves and spent flowers is usually done in two ways. Throughout the growing season, pruning encourages these plants to produce new blossoms instead of seeds.
You also schedule another pruning time during the summer when flowering becomes sparse and the stems get longer. Cut a third part of the stems off the plant.
Pansies have thin stems, so bypass pruners or shears are good tools for pruning. To ensure straight cuts, make sure that the blades are always kept sharp.
Pansies grow easily from seeds, but you can also use stem cuttings for propagating. Note that they take a long time to mature, so you allot 10 to 12 weeks to start germinating before the last frost date. Cover the seeds with soil, as darkness is required for germinating pansies.
If using cuttings for propagating, you can cut the stems in late summer or fall. Cut a little below the joints in the plant’s stems.
Once seeds have germinated, move them to a location where there is ample light. Allow some more time for growing before transplanting them into a garden. These are hardy plants, so they can be transplanted during spring. When sowing in the fall, transplanting can be done as soon as temperatures start to cool.
For planting pansies on the ground, make sure you prepare “mounded beds” that stick out about 8 inches above the existing grade.
Pansies Health Benefits
Pansy flowers are edible. In fact, you can eat not only the petals of these flowers, but other parts too, including the stamen, pistil, and the small leafy parts below the petals called sepals. This means you can just snip a flower off its stem and munch it.
The taste is grassy with wintergreen undertone, so you can mix these flowers in salads. They actually look great and taste great when added to fruit salads. Thus, you can use these flowers for more than just beauty.
Nutrition-wise, pansy flowers are actually packed with proteins, fatty acids, antioxidants and carbohydrates. The amounts of these nutrients contained in these flowers depend on their colors and the differences were shown in a study.
The researchers measured contents of proteins, carbohydrates, palmitic acid, and linoleic acid. Other nutritional contents that were also measured in the study include carotenoids, monomeric anthocyanins, hydrolysable tannins, and flavonoids.
Given this nutrition background, you can always think of these flashy flowers mixed in salads as a powerhouse of healthy nutrients that can benefit your body in several ways, including:
Heart Health and Blood Pressure
The fatty acid content that is in pansy flowers can help reduce cholesterol levels. There is also evidence that suggests that these acids can improve insulin sensitivity.
These substances help in regulating cellular activity and also help in defending the body fight off free radicals. Thus, eating pansy flowers can help your body get rid of toxins and keep stressors at bay.
Immune System Function
Because of the carotenoid content of pansies, consuming them is a good way to support your immune system. Once they enter the body, the carotenoids are converted to Vitamin A, a nutrient that is essential for immune system function, as well as growth and eye health.
These substances have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity. In addition, these substances can help lower blood pressure, inhibit tumor formation and improve visual acuity.
Uses of Pansies
Besides the health benefits that you can get from stir frying pansies or adding them to your green salads and eventually consuming them, you can also use the plant for medicinal purposes.
Skin issues, respiratory conditions and bone health are some of the aspects of health where pansies can help. Pansies can also be used to treat urinary tract infection.
- Skin conditions such as impetigo, acne, psoriasis and eczema – Pansies have antifungal and antimicrobial properties. This is why in some cream and ointment products, manufacturers include pansy extracts. Make a poultice using pansies and apply on the affected area of your skin.
- Dandruff – The vitamins and minerals of pansies are thought to be helpful in controlling dandruff. Check your shampoo if it has pansy extract in it.
- Respiratory issue – If you suffer from bronchitis or you have a whooping cough, the wintergreen aroma of the pansy flowers and the mucilaginous property of their leaves can help with that. You can also make a tea using pansies to soothe your sore throat if you’re having one.
Let us discuss a couple of other uses of pansies here.
- Make homemade vinegar to use for your hair wash - The lavender variety of pansies is great for making vinegar, so just know the basics of fermentation and apply them on making pansy vinegar. Wash your hair with the vinegar once or twice a week. Your hair will be stronger and thicker and grow faster.
- Make soaps and shampoo with pansies - Dry pansies. Dry them until they are fragile and stiff. Melt a bar soap and put melted soap into a mold only filling halfway. Add the dry pansy flowers and then pour the other half of the melted soap.
So, you’ve learned lots of information about pansies. As a gardener, you will love the aesthetic enhancement they can bring to your garden and home.
To forever have them around and all year through, follow the right schedules of planting and support the plants with the best soil and weather conditions possible.
You have also learned that you can earn money by growing pansies and selling them whatever season of the year it is. You also can get a lot of health benefits and you can use pansies for medical issues that you might be having.
So, start planting pansies now, enjoy the wonderful sight, think of earning a few bucks from it, and reap all the health benefits that the plants can give.
Frequently Asked Questions
When do pansies bloom?
Pansies bloom from spring to early summer. Repeat bloom sometimes takes place in the fall.
How long do pansies last?
If properly cared for, the pansy plant can last up to two years, and even three years.
What do pansies look like?
The pansy flower looks like a human face. Sometimes you see these faces positioned as if in a nod, and some people think that the position is like a person who is in deep thought. These flowers come in a huge range of striking, flamboyant colors and color combinations.