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While pansies are small, delicate flowers, they hold a lot of symbolism. They're a flower that signifies love and remembrance, and Shakespeare even referenced them as an ingredient in a love potion in A Midsummer's Night Dream.
Its petals add a colorful pop to any garden, and these blooms are some of the first ones to show up after cold winters. They will bloom in cold weather, making them a beautiful option for the first flowers of spring or the last fall blooms.
- Botanical Name: Viola tricolor var. hortensis
- Common Name: Pansy flowers
- Plant Type: Perennial
- Mature Size: For to eight inches tall
- Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
- Soil Type: Rich, moist soil
- Soil pH: 5.4to 5.8
When it comes to caring for pansies, they're rather easy to keep alive. Ensure they have plenty of sun and water, and they should thrive.
They can be grown in a couple of different ways: from seed or from plants you pick up at your local hardware store or garden supply center. The latter is easier, simply because it requires transplanting from one container to the ground or another container.
If you prefer to grow pansies from seed, you can sow them somewhat closely together (think around 6 inches apart) and cover them with 1/8 inch of soil. Be sure to do this early in the season as pansies take a while to germinate. After planting the pansy seeds, give them a good drink so they can start to grow!
For fertilizer, an all-purpose formula will do. Fertilize once you plant them, and then continue to fertilize once a month after. Soon, your pansies will be flowering and filling the area you planted them in with colorful blooms. When they do start to bloom, do dead head, or pinch off, the dead blooms. This can help lengthen the blooming period.
Before long, you'll have gorgeous pansy flowers filling your garden or container. You can use the flowers and leaves as additions to salads, garnish in cookies, or even make a simple syrup with some of the blooms. They tend to have a somewhat floral flavor.
Best Growing Conditions for Pansies
Pansies are pretty adaptable, but they do best in cooler climates. In very hot summers, they can wilt, but that can be solved by planting the flowers in partial shade so they aren't exposed to the sun all day. In cooler climates, however, pansies can take full sun. In fact, it may even help them grow more flowers!
They prefer rich, moist soil, but they can tolerate drying out for a little bit. Even if you only water them once or twice per week, they should be okay. Do make sure to weed well around the pansies — they can get choked out by other plants. You can place mulch around the flowers which can help keep weeds at bay and keep the soil moist for longer.
In containers, you can pretty much follow the same drill. Pansies do really well in window boxes, and they tend to grow in full, bright bunches. Plus, if you keep them in containers, you can bring them in should the weather get too cold for them outside. Pansies can tolerate light frosts, but they won't survive a hard frost.
No matter where you plant your pansies, make sure to do so in a well-draining soil. They like moist soil, but they don't do well in soggy soil that's constantly wet.
How to Propagate Pansies
Pansies grow from seeds, but you can still propagate them to create more pansies! Perhaps the easiest way to propagate the plant is through division or cuttings.
What You Need
- Healthy mother plant
- Sharp scissors or shears
- Well-draining potting soil
- Small shovel or trowel
- Rooting hormone (optional)
Instructions for Division:
- Select a healthy plant that has full growth and many stems.
- Gently dig out the plant.
- Separate the stems, ensuring each one has roots attached.
- Plant the new plants immediately in a well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist, but not wet.
Instructions for Cuttings:
- Again, select a healthy plant with full growth and plenty of stems.
- Pansies have nodes, or little bulbous parts, near the leaves where roots can grow from. Cut below the node.
- Remove lower leaves.
- Dip the stem in rooting hormone.
- Plant as usual.
Some gardeners say that having at least two nodes on a stem can help increase your chances of a successful propagation.
Common Growing Problems
As hardy as they are, pansies normally don't have many growing problems. They're rather resistant to pests, but can become victims to aphids and slugs. If overwatered, they can experience root rot.
Sunlight is a crucial part of successfully growing pansies, so be sure to not plant them somewhere that gets harsh sun for an extended period of time. On the flip side, too little sun isn't good either. The ideal spot for a pansy is somewhere it can get morning sun, but can also avoid the heat of the afternoon.
Potting and Repotting
Again, pansies are simple to pot and repot. Ensure they have a rich, well-draining soil and water them so the soil stays moist. In cooler weather, cover pansies to help prolong the growing season. You can even bring them indoors if you suspect a heavy frost is coming.
The Gardener's Network. "How to Grow Pansy Flowers or Pansies."
Pick Up Flowers. "Pansy."
The Old Farmer's Almanac. "Growing Pansies: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Pansies."