Pansies, Viola x wittrockiana, are low-growing, bushy perennials that are usually grown as annual bedding plants. They have large, striking flowers, larger than those of violas, and heart-shaped leaves.
The colourful, often bicoloured flowers have darker, face-like markings in the centre. Most cultivars flower in spring and summer but some have been bred to bloom throughout winter, offering a cheerful display of colour when little else is in flower. They look great planted together or paired with spring bulbs.
Check out more plants for winter containers.
Here are some pretty pansies to grow in pots, window boxes or hanging baskets or at the front of the border.
Viola ‘Adonis’ bears large flowers in light shades of blue, with a darker blue centre over a white background. Plants are particularly hardy and can flower from May to September. Seeds can be sown from May to July and overwintered in a cold frame, ready to flower the following year.
Pansy ‘Freefall Lavender’
Viola ‘Freefall Lavender’ is part of the ‘Freefall’ series, which comes in a range of colours. It’s a trailing pansy with a vigorous spreading habit and medium-sized flowers, making it ideal for hanging baskets or the edge of a pot. It flowers well into winter and then again in early spring.
Pansy ‘Cat’s Whiskers’
The large, showy flowers of ‘Cat’s Whiskers’ have a beautiful veined pattern similar to cats whiskers and come in a range of colours. Plants are bushy and compact, and can easily be raised from seed. So seed from May to July and overwinter in a cold frame, ready to plant out the following year. They should flower from January to April.
Pansy ‘Ultima Morpho’
Viola x wittrokiana ‘Ultima Morpho’ is a has pretty purple flowers with a yellow, black-striped centre. Free flowering, it produces a mass of flowers in winter, 5cm across, on compact plants.
Pansy ‘Universal Series’
Viola x wittrockiana ‘Universal Series’ bears large, eye-catching flowers in a mix of colours including blue, orange, yellow, red, purple and white, with various markings. They are often sold in mixed packs at garden centres.
Pansy ‘Tiger Eyes’
Viola x wittrockiana ‘Tiger Eyes’ has unusual gold flowers, with each petal marked with thin black stripes – hence its name. The flowers contrast beautifully with deep-green foliage. Plants are bushy and compact, and can easily be raised from seed. A very hardy cultivar, ‘Tiger Eyes’ is suitable for summer or winter bedding displays.
Pansy care tips
For best results keep plants well watered and deadhead regularly (remove the spent flower and its stem) to prolong flowering.