When to sow winter flowering pansy seeds - GUIDE TO GROWING PANSIES

When to sow winter flowering pansy seeds - GUIDE TO GROWING PANSIES

Starting your winter flowering pansies from seed is a rewarding gardening project at a time when you probably think there's not a lot you can sow. Our straightforward guide will walk you through every step: the best time to plant your seeds, soil preparation, germination techniques, and ongoing care. Follow along to transform your garden with some home grown winter colour.

In a nutshell....

  • Pansies (Viola × wittrockiana) descend from the wild heartsease through selective breeding, offering large flowers compared to their viola relatives, making them garden standouts.

  • For planting in the autumn pansy seed should be sown between June and August, for planting out August to October for winter flowering, and a big show of flowers in the spring.

  • Consistent care for pansies includes using a well-drained soil mix, maintaining even soil moisture without overwatering, hardening off indoor-grown seedlings, and protecting plants from pests, diseases, and extreme weather with strategies like mulching.

Pansy Seed Basics

Let’s begin by delving into the fascinating world of pansy seeds. Pansies, or Viola × wittrockiana, owe their existence to careful crossbreeding. Their lineage traces back to the wild heartsease (Viola tricolor), combined with other species, resulting in a flower named in honour of the Swedish botanist Veit Brecher Wittrock.

Pansies distinguish themselves from their close relatives, violas, through their larger flowers. While violas are known for their smaller yet more abundant blooms, pansies steal the show with their size, making a statement in any garden.

The development of modern garden pansies has been quite an adventure. By crossing selected forms with V. lutea, breeders have achieved large flowers with varied color patterns. This includes the popular winter flowering pansies, which bloom in autumn and peak in early spring, offering gardeners a colourful delight during the colder months.

Pansy Seeds 'The Blues' Mixed
Pansy Seeds 'The Blues' Mixed

Average Contents : 35 seeds

Pansy Seeds 'The Reds' Mixed
Pansy Seeds 'The Reds' Mixed

Average Contents : 35 seeds

Pansy Seeds 'The Whites' Mixed
Pansy Seeds 'The Whites' Mixed

Average Contents : 35 seeds

Pansy Seeds 'The Yellows' Mixed
Pansy Seeds 'The Yellows' Mixed

Average Contents : 35 seeds

The Perfect Timing for Pansy Seed Sowing

Timing is everything when it comes to sowing pansy seeds. For autumn planting, sow seeds outdoors between June and Early August. This timing ensures your pansies will be ready, and established to show off their vibrant colors when spring arrives.

If you prefer to start your pansies indoors, begin seeding at least 10 to 12 weeks before the outdoor planting date.  The exact timing can vary depending on your location, and a lot of people don't like planting out until their summber bedding has finished.

Preparing Your Seed Tray and Soil Mix

Before you sow your pansy seeds, it’s crucial to prepare a good seed-raising mix. Opt for a mix free from soil to ensure well-drained and fertile conditions for pansy seed germination. The right container also plays an essential role. Seed trays, plug trays, or low pots filled with seed-raising mix provide an ideal environment for planting and germinating pansy seeds.

Keeping the soil moist but not saturated is another key to successful germination. Overwatering can lead to waterlogging issues, so aim for a balance. Remember, your pansy seeds need just enough water to thrive, not swim.

Any 4
Coco & Coir Seed Compost with Perlite - 15L
Coco & Coir Seed Compost with Perlite - 15L
Vermiculite 10L Bag
Vermiculite 10L Bag

Germinating Pansy Seeds: A Step-by-Step Approach

Now that your seed tray and soil mix are ready, it’s time to sow your pansy seeds. Start by making a shallow trench in the soil, roughly the depth of a child’s thumb. Space your seeds to have a gap of a finger’s width in between them. Once the seeds are sown, you can expect to see young pansy seedlings emerge in a few weeks.

When you sow pansy seeds, gently cover them with soil, just enough to hide them from view. This is crucial because pansy seeds require darkness during germination, which can be achieved by covering them with soil or a board.

The ideal soil temperature for germinating pansy seeds is between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius, and actually the cooler, the better. A hot summer greenhouse is really the worst place to be germinating.

If you’re germinating indoors, place the seed trays in a cooler part, with plenty of light. Always remember to water the newly sown seeds gently and evenly using a ‘rose’ attachment on your watering can.

Transplanting Young Pansies: From Seed Tray to Garden

Once your pansy seedlings have sprouted, they’ll soon be ready for transplanting. But before you make the move, it’s essential to harden off your pansies. This process involves acclimatizing them to outdoor conditions over two to three weeks, which is crucial for developing sturdy growth and enhancing leaf structure.

Start the hardening off process by moving your pansies to a cold glasshouse, cold frame, or a sheltered outdoor position. Use protective fleece as needed to shield your young pansies from harsh weather conditions.

Protect your pansy plants with horticultural fleece during frost risk and reduce protection gradually as they adjust to the outdoor environment. Ensure consistent moisture but allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.

Acclimate young indoor-grown pansy plants to new outdoor growing conditions about a month before the last expected frost date.

Nurturing Your Growing Pansies

Growing pansies is a labour of love, and nurturing these charming blooms requires regular watering to keep the soil evenly moist. To grow pansies successfully, especially during dry spells, focusing the water on the soil can prevent fungal diseases. Plant pansies with care and enjoy their beauty in your garden.

In addition to watering, feeding your pansies is essential for their growth. Apply a liquid fertiliser every two weeks or use a single controlled release fertiliser to encourage more abundant blooms from spring to autumn.

Finally, plant your pansies in fertile soil with good sun exposure or partial shade. The right planting conditions ensure their optimal growth and flowering. In our garden, we found the perfect spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade, and our pansies have been thriving ever since.

Troubleshooting Common Pansy Problems

Growing pansies is not without its challenges. Fungal diseases can be a common issue.

One common disease affecting pansies is downy mildew, which causes pale blotches and fuzzy growth on leaves. While there are no specific fungicides available for homeowners, removing infected foliage can help manage the disease.

Pests such as aphids and slugs can also pose a problem, especially in wet seasons. Identifying these pests by their damage to the plants is the first step in combating them. In one rainy season, our pansy garden was invaded by slugs, but we managed to control them with Nemaslug Slug Nematodes, a natural and effective option.

Pansy Care Through Seasons: From Spring Flowers to Autumn and Winter

Caring for pansies through the seasons requires particular attention to winter protection. Shielding their roots from extreme temperature fluctuations and soil heaving is essential.

To protect your pansies, apply a layer of straw mulch for winter protection. This helps sustain the pansies through the cold season, ensuring they’ll be ready to bloom again when spring arrives.

From spring flowers to summer flowers, autumn, and winter, pansies, including pansy flowers, are a joy to grow and care for. With the right amount of love and care, these charming blooms can bring colour and happiness to your garden throughout the year.


Frequently Asked Questions

What's the best time to sow pansy seeds for planting in the Autumn?

The best time to sow pansy seeds for spring blooming is between June and Early August. Happy gardening!

How do I germinate pansy seeds?

To germinate pansy seeds, sow them in a shallow trench, cover lightly with soil, maintain a soil temperature between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius, and keep them in darkness until they sprout. 

How do I transplant pansies from a seed tray to the garden?

To transplant pansies from a seed tray to the garden, start by hardening off the pansies for two to three weeks, gradually acclimating them to outdoor conditions, before transplanting them to their outdoor spot.

What common problems might I encounter when growing pansies?

Common problems when growing pansies include fungal diseases and pests like aphids and slugs. Prevention and early management are crucial for addressing these issues.

How can I incorporate pansies into my garden design?

Incorporate pansies into your garden design by using them in bold colour schemes, container designs, or tabletop arrangements, as their vibrant colors and versatility make them suitable for various design ideas.



Latest Blog Posts...