Growing Pansy Flowers: Care Tips, How to Plant and Best Seeds

Viola x wittrockiana, more commonly known as Pansies, are short-lived perennial flowers.

Originating back in the 1800s, the flowers come in a vast array of colors and are ideal for planters, hanging baskets, borders, and window boxes. They can be planted as a group or mixed with other plants.

David Jennings, Garden Street Design Specialist, describes pansies as "one of the easiest flowers to grow."

He told Newsweek: "Whilst there are a number of different colors and breeds to choose from, the manner in which you grow and care for them does not change.

"This gives you the confidence to pick the colors and style that you like, without worrying that one may be more difficult than another to grow."

And while the flowers are well known as being attractive, some people may also be surprised to learn pansies are also edible.

Jennings said: "Pansies can be added on top of a range of dishes to complement your food, such as salads. The entirety of the plant can be eaten, so don't worry about having to pick apart the leaves on the flower.

"If you have purchased your pansies from a garden center, rather than growing them from a seed, then it is not recommended that you eat them. The reason for this is pesticides may have been used on or near the pansies and can be harmful to consume."

Read on to learn some top pansy growing tips from experts.

Sowing the Seed

Pansies are the perennials popular for adding a splash of color in pot and border displays AnjoKanFotografie/Getty Images§

Angela Slater, Gardening Expert at Hayes Garden World, suggests for winter flowering pansies, sow the seed from May to July in a good quality seed compost.

She told Newsweek: "Sprinkle the seed thinly on the surface, then stand the seed tray in water until the surface is damp.

"Keep at a moderate temperature until they have germinated. If the temperature or moisture levels fluctuate, it can lead to the seeds failing to germinate."

Pricking Out

Multicolored Pansy Flowers
Pansies are one of the easiest flowers to grow _Vilor/Getty Images

Once the seedlings are growing strongly and have made their first pair of true leaves—not the first pair after germination—gently prick out into potting compost in individual cells.

Slater said: "Place somewhere cool and light until they are ready to plant in the garden."

Planting Out

orange pansies blooming
If possible, pansies require a sunny site, preferably with at least six hours a day franconiaphoto/Getty Images

Once they have produced six to eight leaves and formed sturdy plants, pansies can be planted out in their final position.

Slater said: "Use a good quality multi-purpose peat-free compost if planting in containers.

"If planting in the ground, dig in some fresh compost beforehand or add some well-rotted farmyard manure to your beds and borders in early autumn as a mulch."

Planting Position

 red viola flowers close up
Pansies can be added on top of a range of dishes to complement your food LUMIKK555/Getty Images

If possible, pansies require a sunny site, preferably with at least six hours a day.

Slater said: "If the position is too shady, they won't produce as many flowers."


Purple violet pansy flower
Try and keep pansies a little damp InnaPoka/Getty Images

Keep them just damp; if they are too wet, they will succumb to rot. In winter they won't need much water, just a little if there has been a long dry spell.

Slater said: "Keep taking off the dead heads as this will encourage them to keep on flowering."

Pests and Diseases

In winter, all the pests which trouble pansies in summer will be hibernating LianeM/Getty Images

In winter, all the pests which trouble them in summer will be hibernating.

Slater said: "Mildew, which is the result of being too dry in summer, won't be a problem in winter."