Organic gardener growing food and flowers, lovin' pollinators and birds.

Why You Should Grow Pansies From Seed

Johnny Jump Ups!
Pansies are an easy to grow flower from seed and they can be sown from December through February. The earlier you sow, the earlier you can expect them to flower. My last batch of pansies just germinated yesterday, so they will bloom a little later than the ones I started in early January. If you live in an area with a long cool spring, than you can get away with sowing them at the end of February even. Mine usually bloom around Easter, unless Easter is especially early.

Pansy seeds that have just sprouted.
The best part of sowing pansies (and violas for that matter, since they are treated the same way) is that they can be sown earlier than most other seeds. So when you get an itch for spring in the middle of winter, you can safely start pansies inside.

I usually sow my seeds and barely cover them with soil. (I use a seed starting mix.) I take the plastic seed cells they are in and place them in a disposable plastic bag from the grocery store. Then I place them on the floor in a dark corner of my house with either pieces of cardboard or newspaper on top. The seeds take about two weeks to germinate in the darkness. My house does not have a basement, so the foundation is a cement slab. In the winter, it can get very cold. Bad for me, since it's cold to walk on, but good for the pansies. They seem to like the chilly feet.

I check the pansies every couple of days for germination. Usually nothing happens until the tenth or fourteenth day. Then I remove the cell packs from the plastic bag and put them under my grow lights. At first, they look very frail and weak (as shown above). But after a few days they begin to look stockier.

Pansy seedlings that are a few days old.

Here they are with the first pair of true leaves.

Tiger Eyes Viola.
I don't fertilize my pansy seedlings. I just keep them watered when the soil looks dry. I prefer to water from the bottom to encourage strong roots. I also try not to overwater them, since this not only can cause dampening off, but also encourages pesky fungus gnats to breed. (To battle them, I place little ramekins of vinegar or water out to catch them. They seem drawn to the scent of the vinegar or just the movement of the water, since I've found that both work. They try to land on it and often drown.)

I usually plant too many pansies and violas seeds, but there are so many different types and colors that it's hard to pick just one. I've found that Swallowtail Garden Seeds offers a very good selection of both pansy and viola seeds. Seed Savers Exchange also offers an old-fashioned pansy. (The Seed Savers variety definitely reminds me of the pansies that talked to Alice in the Disney movie Alice in Wonderland due to their "faces.")

In recent years, pansies with frilled petals have grown in popularity.  I see the Frizzle Sizzle varieties the most often at the plant nurseries.
Of course, even though I grow several different varieties, I usually purchase a few plants from the garden center. What can I say? I'm a sucker for ruffled petals.



  1. Ooo, thank you for the pics! I'm giving pansies a go in the off-season (it's almost June) and hope I can get them to bloom!

  2. I sure appreciate your photos. Mine have just barely come up and now I know the "order of the march" for growing pansies, in my case, "Coronation Gold". Wish me luck!


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