Winter pansies provide a bright splash of colour in winter landscapes. Although nearly any pansy survives cold winters and blooms periodically during warm spells, winter pansies come in a variety of cultivars bred for winter blooming. Ideal for climates that receive little snow where the landscape remains visible throughout the winter months, winter pansies brighten dull winter landscapes.
Ed Hume Seeds (see resources) provides a Hiemalis mixture of winter pansies designed to withstand cold climates. These medium sized blooms bloom during mild winter months and create an explosion of colour in early spring. Planted in areas protected from cold winter winds these colourful flowers bloom throughout the winter in southern regions. Icicle pansies and Icicle violas, available from Fernlea Flowers Ltd. (see resources) planted in late fall bloom until late November, with some reports of blooms until Christmas, and resume blooming in early March when warm weather returns.
Garden supply stores carry a variety of cold hardy pansies suitable for winter gardening. Although not specifically labelled as winter pansies, most pansies are cold hardy and withstand all but the hardest freezes. Johnny-jumps-ups survive all but the coldest northern winters and emerge from the snow already in bloom. Plant pansies in the late summer or in early fall to promote blooms during the winter months.
Deadhead pansies on a regular basis to promote continued blooms. Allow pansies to go to seed near the end of their growing season, as they will self-seed and reward you will a mass of new plants in the spring. Pinch or trim pansy plants to encourage compact growth and create a bushy plant.
Plant is masses in secluded areas for a profusion of colour in warm spells or plant in containers to display on the deck for an inviting splash of colour when other flowers are dormant. Water well in the fall before the first hard frost and again in the spring. Application of water-soluble fertiliser in the spring provides needed nutrients for brightly coloured blooms and healthy robust plants.
If you are unable to locate winter pansies, choose pansies that are labelled as cold hardy. There is some question as to whether winter pansies are really any different from regular cold hardy pansies or if they are simply labelled as such for commercial reasons. Regardless of claims on the label, most pansies are hardy and can withstand frost. Many emerge from snow-covered landscapes unscathed and continue to bloom as warm weather returns.