If you live in USDA Zones 2-10 (or the equivalent), you can grow pansies year round.
Members of the genus Viola, pansies include approximately 500 species, each producing pretty five-petaled flowers in a variety of colors.
Many types of pansies—with a wide range of growing requirements—are available, making it easy to grow pansies year round.
Some pansies grow well in extremely cold temperatures; others perform well in very hot climates. Some pansies thrive in full sun; others do best in shade. Some pansies grow well in rich hummus, while others prefer rocky soil. And many are frost resistant, gracing autumn and winter gardens with their fresh flower faces.
purple violet, western dog violet
woodland white violet
heath violet, heath dog violet
bedding pansy, horned violet
marsh blue violet
trailing violet, Australian violet
pansy violet, bird's foot violet
dog violet, wood violet
northern blue violet
heartsease, love-in-idleness, johnny jump-up
Hardiness Zone Maps
Don't know your growing zone? "World Hardiness Zones" provides links to hardiness zone maps for the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, South America and more.
Hardy Perennial Pansies
Depending upon the species, hardy perennial pansies bloom in spring, summer or from spring into summer.
Viola pedata, the bird's foot violet or pansy violet, is a frost-tolerant spring bloomer that grows best in partial shade in Zones 4-9. Pansy violet flowers are usually lilac with darker upper petals and purple veins.
Viola cornuta, also called bedding pansies or horned violets, grow best in Zones 7-10. Mounding plants that grow well in shade and sun, they're also frost tolerant.
Viola cornuta begins blooming in late spring and continues to produce dark-veined purple flowers throughout the summer. Other colors are also available.
Bedding pansies with white flowers include 'Jewel White,' 'Sorbet Coconut' and those in the 'Alba' group. 'Magnifico' bedding pansies produce white flowers with deep pink edges.
Three bedding pansies in pastel shades include pink 'Victoria's Blush,' lilac 'Belmont Blue' and pale yellow 'Pat Kavanagh.'
'Sorbet Black Delight' bedding pansies produce dramatically dark flowers that are a velvety purplish-black.
Other hardy perennial pansies are listed in the table above.
Viola hybrid cultivars bred from V. cornuta, V. corsica and V. tricolor pansies can withstand cold temperatures and chilling frosts.
Two standout cold-climate pansies include Ultima Supreme pansies and the Universal Series of pansy plants.
Ultima Supreme Pansies
Ultima Supreme pansies are compact fast growers that produce large flowers in a wide range of colors and color combinations, including apricot, orange, purple and yellow.
Universal Series Pansies
Universal Series pansies tolerate hot and cold temperatures equally well—and they're prolific bloomers, producing masses of flowers with pansy faces in 13 solid colors, including blue, maroon, orange, purple, white and yellow.
'Baby Lucia' is another extremely cold-tolerant, heavy-blooming pansy. Its blue flowers grow from mounds that can reach up to six-inches high. Like many other small, viola pansies, 'Baby Lucia' is sweetly fragrant.
As noted above, Universal series pansies are heat tolerant. 'Imperial Antique Shades' pansies are also heat-tolerant hybrids.
Imperial Series Pansies
Part of the Imperial Series of hybrids, 'Imperial Antique Shades' pansies do not produce as many flowers as those in the Universal series, but their blooms are larger. Delicate and fluttery, their flowers bloom in a variety of soft, pastel colors—mostly shades of apricot, blue, cream and pink.
Pansies are sold under many names: viola, violet, pansy violet, heartsease, johnny jump-up and love-in-idleness.
Annual & Tender Perennial Pansies
Temporary Bedding Plants
Bi-color, tricolor and multicolor pansy hybrids are fun to grow as temporary bedding plants. All are prodigious producers of the quintessential pansy flower: five fluttery petals surrounding a pretty pansy face. Here are a few of the best.
Baby Face Pansies
Pansy hybrids in the Baby Face Series of plants produce bi-colored and multicolored flowers. Each has a distinctive pansy face.
Pansies in the Fama Series are semi-trailing, making them great as bedding plants and as spillers in mixed container gardens.The flowers, although not overly large, grow in masses of pastel shades.
Velour Series Pansies
Velvety petals; dark, vivid colors; and black markings are the hallmarks of the Velour Series of pansies. Two particularly gorgeous cultivars are 'Black Moon' and 'Elain Quin.' 'Black Moon' pansies produce flowers with rich, black petals. 'Elain Quin's' petals are a cream-striped rose.
About the Author
The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.
She first began gardening as a child alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm.
Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.
© 2012 Jill Spencer