How to Grow Pansies and Violas
Pansies and violas are one of the most popular annual flowers, and for good reason! These delicate flowers are cute, full of color, and are very hardy. They thrive in cooler temperatures, making them the perfect annual flower for adding color to your space early and late in the season. This means that in early spring and late fall when it is too cold for most other flowers to survive, your pansies will be filling in with bright combinations of yellow, purple, pink, orange, red, blue, and white!
Pansies have been a favored annual flower for decades. Sometimes referred to as "Johnny Jump Ups," pansies are actually part of the Viola family and are so similar in appearance that they are often mistaken for one another. The main difference between the two is their size, with violas being smaller plants that produce smaller flowers, though in greater quantity. Pansies, though they might produce larger blooms, produce less of them as more energy must go into each bloom. There are also some differences in the colors and the petal count of each type of flower, however the size of the plant's foliage and blooms is the easiest way to tell the difference between the two.
Growing Pansies 101
Pansies are really quite easy to grow. While they are technically a short-season perennial, they are most often grown as annuals. They are not overly particular and are willing to grace you with their presence under just a few conditions.
1. When to Plant Pansies
Due to their ability to withstand cooler temperatures, pansies are ideal for early spring and late fall. Their ideal temperature is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night. So, plant in the spring when the snow melts away and the temperature begins the rise. For fall planting, wait until the heat of the summer has begun to die down a bit. Your pansies will be able to tolerate some hot days, though they will really begin to thrive later in the fall!
If you planted your pansies in the spring and are wondering what to do with them throughout the summer, the answer is simple. If you planted them in porch pots or hanging baskets, you can dig them up to make space for your summer flowers. If you planted them in your garden or flower beds, there is not much you have to do aside from continuing to water them throughout the summer. While they may begin to look ragged under the hot sun, they will likely bounce back in the fall, bringing you another round of adorable, brightly colored flowers!
2. Light Requirements
Pansies prefer full sun to partial shade. Specifically, they will grow best in an area that receives direct morning sun and afternoon shade. While your pansies will grow just fine in full sun, having some afternoon shade will help shield your plants from the exhausting afternoon sun, helping them bloom longer and stay looking fresh.
3. Soil Conditions
While pansies are not overly particular about the soil they are planted in, they will perform best in soil that is rich and fertile, not overly compact (light and fluffy soil is best!), and slightly acidic. Pansies are also heavy feeders, meaning they require a lot of nutrients for optimal growth. We recommend mixing some mushroom compost into your soil before planting to give them lots of nutrients up front to help with vigorous growth from the get-go!
4. Watering Needs
Your pansies will perform best if they are watered regularly. They prefer soil that is moist, but not soggy (think like a wrung-out sponge). Having soil that drains well is very important, as soil that drains freely will not easily become soggy or waterlogged. If planting your pansies in containers, make sure to use a high-quality potting soil and a container that has a drainage hole!
5. Temperature and Humidity
As we said above, pansies thrive in cooler temperatures. They can be hardy to zone 4 and you might even see them survive throughout the winter and push through the snow in spring! Most varieties prefer daytime temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit and will begin to decline when the temperature begins to rise for the summer.
6. Fertilizing Your Pansies
Like most annual flowers, your pansies will appreciate some extra added nutrients every now and then! Since they are heavy feeders, they will benefit from being fertilized, however, fertilizing too much can just make them leggy. We recommend using a balanced fertilizer once per month for best results.
Like with many other annual flowers, pansies will benefit from deadheading. Simply pinch off any spent blooms at the base of the bloom (don't just pull off the petals) to help encourage further blooming!
How to Plant and Grow Pansies
If you have any questions about pansies or violas, reach out and let us know! Whether you need assistance picking out the perfect fertilizer, finding the right soil, or choosing the right location to plant, we are standing by ready to help with any and all of your plant-related questions!