Pansies, generally considered a “fall annual,” come in an array of colors and markings, providing cheerful blooms to a cold landscape, but how long do Pansies last? This is a question I’ve been asked a lot lately, so I figured I would address it in today’s post.
Pansies are remarkable annuals that are hardy through winter and spring in warmer climates (zones 4 and up). They provide wonderful color at a time when most other flowers have died back for the season. Winter time is full of green, but it’s great to add a pop of color.
Although typically grown as annuals, Pansies are actually short-lived perennials/hardy biennials in the right climate (Utah State 2014). They easily grow in all parts of the United States; however, they have an extended life in areas where long periods without frost are common. They fade and are usually discarded when really hot weather arrives and summer flowers take over (Utah State 2014).
How long pansies last for you will depend on your lowest and highest temperatures. Pansies can die back from temperatures that are either too cold or too hot.
Cold vs. Pansy
Pansies have a tolerance to low-temperatures and actually thrive in cool weather (40°-60°F) (Kwon 1992). They are capable of surviving temperatures down to the single digits, but when the air temperature drops below 25°F, pansy foliage will wilt and turn a gray-green color. This is a normal defense response to cold weather, and they usually bounce back with vigor when warm weather returns (Wade 2009).
Protect from Frost
Healthy plants can generally survive short periods of temperatures down to the single digits without protection; however, if you live in a place where frost is a concern, the best way to save your Pansies from freeze injury is to mulch with pine straw. Apply the straw 2-4 inches thick over the top of the entire bed (plants and all) during extreme cold. The pine straw will help trap heat in the soil, prevent it from freezing, and greatly reduce exposure to wind. When the cold temperatures pass, carefully rake the pine straw off the bed (BH&G 2020).
Special frost protection fabrics have also been used successfully. These special freeze protection measures are generally taken only when the air temperature is expected to drop below 20°F for several hours, when dehydrating winds accompany the cold, and when the soil is in jeopardy of freezing.
Heat vs. Pansy
While Pansies can tolerate some cold, they absolutely do not like excessive heat and humidity. Heat causes pansies to become leggy and stop blooming. When summer warmth begins to get the upper hand, go ahead and remove pansies to make way for your summer annuals (BH&G 2020).
However with the right conditions, you can try to get your pansies to survive the heat of summer. If you want to try to “over-summer” your pansies, plant them in a somewhat shady area.
I have a few that made it through summer this past year. They don’t always look amazing after the hot summer months, but you can give them a nice haircut in late July/early August with the hopes that they’ll flush out for fall again. I always like pushing the limits of my plants. Who doesn’t want to save a few extra bucks? Plus it’s fun to see what they do! What’s the harm in trying? You would have just thrown them out anyways.
Pansies are excellent choices for low borders and in larger masses, but don’t count on a solid ground cover (BH&G 2020, Utah State 2014). The plants are more clumping than spreading (BH&G 2020). They are also colorful in planters and window boxes (Utah State 2014). Consider planting some this fall for beautiful color during our cooler months.
Did you know that pansies are also edible?
Check out our previous post all about edible flowers for some fun recipes!