If you're after a quick splash of winter colour, reach for a tray of cheery little pansies.


Coming in at around 50p per plant, especially if you buy multi-packs, you'll have flowers in all but the harshest weather, lasting well into spring with some regular deadheading.

Pack winter containers with just pansies or smaller-flowered violas for instant impact, or tuck their sunny faces among other plants. They brighten up evergreens, complement winter-flowering shrubs and add dabs of colour to winter foliage displays.

For more container inspiration, check out our favourite plants for containers, spring container ideas and upcycled containers for the garden.

We've put together some easy container ideas using pansies and violas in combination with other plants.


Bright and dark

Purple pansies shine out against the dark heuchera leaves. Heucheras produce pretty summer flowers, too, making this a great long-season container.

We used: Purple violas, Heucherella 'Stoplight' and Heuchera 'Obsidian'.

Other plants to try: Bergenia cordifolia 'Purpurea', Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea', purple ornamental kale, wallflower 'Purple Shades'.

Purple violas with contrasting golden and bronze heucheras


Pretty and pink

Candy-pink heather and rich plum pansies look vibrant in a glazed, green terracotta pot. Add scarlet berries with a skimmia.

We used: Deep-pink heather, Skimmia japonica and maroon pansies.

Other plants to try: Gaultheria procumbens, Cyclamen coum and Hebe 'Heartbreaker'.

Maroon pansies with complementary pink heather


Tasty treat

Cheery violas look great with evergreen herbs. Place in a sunny spot by the door and pick the herbs as you need them.

We used: rosemary, thyme, white and orange violas.

Other plants to try: sage, winter savory, yellow and orange primroses.

White and orange violas planted with rosemary, thyme and oregano


Burgundy glow

These bonfire shades warm the chilliest winter's day. The photinia makes a gorgeous year-round shrub for the garden once it outgrows the pot.

We used: Carex 'Red Rooster', Photinia 'Red Robin', Heuchera 'Sunrise' and burgundy/yellow violas.

Other plants to use: Nandina domestica, Cornus alba 'Sibirica', Bergenia cordifolia 'Purpurea' and copper-coloured wallflowers.

Burgundy/yellow violas with maroon foliage of carex, photinia and heuchera


Shades of pale

Pastel shades take on an ice-cool elegance against silvery white-variegated foliage. Add snowdrop bulbs for extra early-season loveliness.

We used: Variegated ivy, blue/white violas.

Other plants to use: Euonymus fortunei 'Silver Queen', Helichrysum italicum and forget-me-nots.

Pale-blue and white viola planted beside the complementary white of a variegated ivy


Window dressing

In a sheltered spot, this display will be full of flowers right through autumn, and then take the pansies over.

We used: pennisetum, myrtle, Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea', Dryopteris erythrosora, pansy 'Wine Flash', Coreopsis 'Limerock Ruby' and Sedum 'Dragon's Blood'.


Other plants to use: Heuchera 'Palace Purple', Cosmos 'Rubenza', hosta, variegated ivy, red bellis, daisies.

A window box of bronze and green foliage and flowers including pansies

Eat your violas

Viola petals are edible – sprinkle them onto winter salads for an unusual extra ingredient. Discover more edible flowers to grow.