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Pansy Viola × wittrockiana

Growing Pansies: Tips at a Glance

  • Type Spring flower
  • Lifespan Short-lived perennial
  • USDA Zones 4-7
  • Light Sun or partial shade
  • Water Well-drained soil
  • When to Plant Cool weather
  • Design Tips Front of the border
  • Companions Coral Bells
  • Peak Season Spring flowers

Pansies: A Field Guide

To Emily Dickinson, who loved flowers, a pansy was a “dear, old fashioned, little flower!” And by old-fashioned, the poet meant good things: faithful, resolute, and cheerful. 

This is just the sort of flower we need to kick off spring. Perennial pansies are cousins to violets, as their botanical name (Viola × wittrockiana) makes clear. Pansies’ diminutive, colorful flowers in bright shades of blue, purple, yellow, white, and orange self-sow freely and will pop up in unexpected spots in the garden next spring.

Don’t confuse pansies with their close relatives, other violas: Viola cornuta and Viola tricolor have smaller flowers but make better ground covers (their habit is to grow in tight mats).

More About Pansies

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