Pansies? Wimps? Not Even Close!

Bring on the Pansies

It’s been established that I may or may not have a problem when it comes to impulse-buying flowers.  It doesn’t help that there is a cute little flower shop directly on my walk home (I make sure I’m conveniently on the correct side of the road).  Unfortunately this purchase did not involve that shop but another nursery in town.  Wilson Nurseries had a BOGO sale on their pansies and I had a lot of space to fill in the garden…need I say more?

A Little Bit About Pansies

Pansies are well-known for their distinctive “facial” markings.   These cheerful blooms love sun as much as they love water but prefer the cooler weather of spring and fall.  They are viola hybrids (Viola x wittrockiana) and you will find them in colors across the spectrum from warm reds and oranges to cool blues and purples.  These are considered blue — but I called them purple.

Two Pansy Flats
They didn’t have many blooms when I got them but I figured they would come around soon.
learning every day

At the time I brought the flats home (and started writing this post), I knew that pansies did not like intense summer heat and would probably crap out by June or July.  Okay, fine.  I can get something else if I need to later. They add an easy pop of color to my garden.

What I did not know about pansies is that you can treat them as both annuals AND perennials for USDA Zones as low as 4.


For those of you who knew this already, great. I didn’t.  I’d love to have a discussion with you about overwintering.  I just assumed these poor pansies were doomed to a short, blissful life of color, only to be met with a sizzling, wilty death in the scorching summer sun. That was that.

Not so fast!  Pansies, depending on when they are planted and how they are cared for, can go dormant over the winter and return to bloom in the spring.  In some areas, they can even flower in the winter.  They are hardy in zones 4-8 and my zone 6 sits right in the middle!


time to plant

Oddly enough, both flats sat unplanted for a few weeks because my brain tends to err on the side of perfection. I couldn’t seem to settle on where to plant them.  Commitment issues, I guess.

I finally ended up planting some of them in my spiral topiary planters (more about this in a later post) and the rest in one of the smaller front beds.  That was also the morning I decided to line my walkway with a bunch of flowers – that was a long morning.

Pansies in Flower Bed
See! They ended up blooming and added nice color to the small bed right in front of our driveway.
Pansies with Spiral Topiaries
I love the way the pansies filled in the base of the topiary. I should have cut them back as they were pretty leggy but I didn’t know much about doing that then.

After a couple of months of nailing down my watering schedule (I can’t wait to share future plans for that as well, see Cut the Water Works), I am beginning to learn which location of the two they prefer.  Let’s just say they aren’t doing so well in the topiary planters.  As a matter of fact, they are a tad gross.  If I have time, I will dig them out and replace them.


I will research how to overwinter pansies.  I’ve read that the earlier you plant the better but that may only count for pansies planted in the fall.  Once I get my hands on another flat, I will experiment to see how each “batch” performs (spring-planted vs. fall-planted).  I might just end up with a bunch of dead pansy-pops this winter.  We’ll see, I guess!

Feel free to share any insight you have about pansies and how you’ve kept them alive over the winter!


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