Winter Pansies

Fill your landscape with winter pansies to paint your yard with dazzling color through the garden’s quiet season.
Pale Yellow Winter Pansy Provides Showy Display

Pale Yellow Winter Pansy Provides Showy Display

Fill your landscape with winter pansies to paint your yard with dazzling color through the garden’s quiet season.

Photo by: DK - Gardening Step by Step © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Gardening Step by Step , 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Fill your landscape with winter pansies to paint your yard with dazzling color through the garden’s quiet season.

It’s tough to beat winter pansies for adding splashes and ribbons of joyful hues to a seasonally-quiet color palette. Pansies earn their keep in winter landscapes in Zones 6 and higher, tossing open cheerful blooms as temperatures march steadily downward. Caring for winter pansies differs slightly from tending plants in spring or early fall.

For winter pansies, ideal temperatures to promote steady growth and flowering fall between 40º F and 60º F. But these good-natured winter annuals can survive cold snaps where temps dip into the single digits for a few hours. Winter pansies boast rugged constitutions, freezing solid and rebounding with strong growth when warm weather returns.

It’s vital to time planting right with winter pansies. For ideal growth, pansies need soil temperatures between 45º F and 65º F. When soil temperatures drop below 45º F, pansy roots shut down, which means above-ground growth and flowering grinds to a halt. Plants remain alive and can rebound when soil temperatures shift. Aim to get winter pansies in the ground a few weeks before soil temperatures hit that 45º F mark.

Check with your local cooperative extension office to discover planting windows for your area. Search online to locate soil temperature readings or get a soil thermometer and take measurements in your yard. Remember to insert the thermometer 6 inches deep to approximate root-zone depth.

When shopping for pansies, remember that larger containers yield more established root systems, which support a quicker transplanting transition with less shock. In colder zones, purchase the largest pansies you can afford to ensure you’ll have substantial color to savor before the coldest air arrives. Even in warmer regions, landscapers prefer to plant 4-inch pansies. Once low temperatures arrive and linger during winter’s short days, plants won’t grow as quickly as during spring or early fall. You won’t regret starting with larger plants, especially in colder regions.

Winter Pansies

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Blue Mood

These colorful 'Cool Wave Violet Wing' pansies can intensify your fall garden. The petals of this pansy give you a splash of deep indigo to golden yellow.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Violet Delight

Pansies look great in hanging baskets. Watch these violet pansies spread and trail through the cool autumn weather.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Annual Beauty

Annuals, such as these pansies, are plants that germinate, flower, set seed, and die all in one growing season.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Viola x Wittrockiana Brilliant Yellow Winter Pansy

Universal Series are perennials that are grown for their pansy flowers in winter and spring. Flower colors include blue, orange, yellow, mauve, purple, maroon, red and white.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pails in Comparison

These upcycled containers really show off the vibrant colors of these pansies.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Deep Purple

This deep purple hue is a great fall garden accent.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

White Bedding

White pansies are great for garden beds.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Simple Design of Mixed White and Purple Pansies

White and purple pansies in a slender window box help to create a simple-yet-impressive spring garden display.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

'Cool Wave Violet Wing'

'Cool Wave Violet Wing' pansies can be paired with pumpkins and gourds to adorn a walkway or front porch.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Pretty Enough to Eat

Just a few of these pansies will fill your flower pot and bloom beautifully.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Pale Yellow Winter Pansies Provides Winter Display

Winter pansies provide a bright splash of color in winter landscapes. They come in a variety of cultivars bred for winter blooming. Pansies are ideal for climates where the landscape remains visible throughout winter months to brighten dull winter landscapes.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Hanging Around

'Cool Wave Yellow' pansies paired with pumpkins adorn this front porch for stunning fall curb appeal.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Frosty Flowers

Freshen up fall landscapes with 'Cool Wave Frost' pansies. As the temperatures dip, the colors intensify for a deeper bluish hue.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Viola Tricolor Pansy Adds Color to Winter

Viola tricolor, or Johnny Jump-Up, is essentially a cold-weather flower and quite hardy. Its pretty little flowers are usually three-toned, with yellow, white and purple blossoms. They grow almost anywhere, in full sun to full shade and in cool soil.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Window Box Wonder

A window box of 'Cool Wave Golden Yellow' pansies would brighten any outdoor space.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Braving the Cold

Johnny Jump-Ups, or violas, are petite country cousins of the modern pansy. They are very colorful, hardy and flower from spring to fall. These viola bloom all winter in southern parts of the country.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Companion Planting

Companion planting creates a plant community. It is a traditional technique used by organic growers to create a better growing environment. It works well in a patio garden. Examples are basil, tomatoes, French marigolds, thyme and pansies.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Mix and Match

Add easy spreading color to any fall landscape with these 'Cool Wave Yellow' and 'Cool Wave Violet Wing' pansies. These flowers spread and trail up to three feet for stunning cool-season ground cover.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Mix It Up

These white pansies can survive the winter in the South. They can be mixed with other colorful pansies to give you a beautiful container look.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Edible Meets Beautiful

This bag full of pansies is filled with hues of purple, blue and yellow and mixed with edibles.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

'Cool Wave Frost' Pansy

White flowers develop light blue “frost” from the edge as they mature. Cool temperatures enhance the color pattern.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Compact Pansy

Viola wittrockiana, Crystal Bowl Series pansy, produces small flowers in a wide color palette. This short lived plant is commonly used to create spots of color during fall, winter and spring.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Cool Wave White Pansy- Hanging Basket

Hanging baskets of 'Cool Wave White' pansies provide a crisp, cool addition to fall and winter gardens, surviving through winter months in southern climates for added seasons of color.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Tough Customers

When planted in landscapes, these Cool Wave pansies will overwinter (up to USDA Hardiness Zone 5) and return earlier in spring than other pansies for two seasons of color.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

In Zones 7 and 8, plant pansies en masse for traffic-stopping landscape color. In Zones 5 and 6, consider local weather as you determine planting options for winter pansies. If your winters typically serve a prolonged period of temps in the teens, you might want to tuck pansies into containers on porches or near your home, where they’re easy to protect with a frost blanket on the coldest nights.

Well-drained soils are vital for winter pansies to survive. If soils are heavy and retain water, once soil temps dip to 45º F and pansy roots shut down, plants rot if they’re sitting in waterlogged soil. That’s one reason why pansies in containers, even in a protected location in a wintry Zone 5 setting, can rebound in spring. Raised beds work wonderfully for winter pansies in the landscape. Also, don’t forget to mulch soil. Adding two to three inches of mulch helps moderate soil temperatures and slow the inevitable cool-down.

The other key to growing great winter pansies is fertilizer. Avoid slow-release nitrogen that’s ammonia-based. Instead, opt for a liquid fertilizer. Follow label instructions to determine feeding rates. To keep winter pansies healthy, remove faded flowers faithfully, along with any that become frost-damaged. 

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