Members of the violet family, pansies are cool-season flowers that work well as borders, edging and in window boxes. Available in a wide array of colours, pansies grow approximately 22.5 cm (9 inches) tall with an equal spread at maturity. Pansies propagate by seeds sowed in cool, moist soil. However, germination is difficult, especially when sowed in outdoor soil. Pansy seeds germinate best when planted in the indoor environment. Pansy seeds planted indoors eight to 10 weeks prior to the final frost yield an assortment of seedlings that will be ready for outdoor planting in the spring.
Fill a seed-starter tray with damp potting soil. Press one pansy seed 4 mm (1/8 inch) down into the soil of each cell. Pat the soil gently over the top of the seeds to remove air pockets.
Cover the seed tray with a dark cover. Seed-starter trays come with clear covers to let in sunlight, but pansy seeds require complete darkness. Place a dark plastic bag over the seed starter tray and secure it with a rubber band.
Set the seed-starter tray in a cool area that has a daytime temperature of 15.6 degrees C (60 F) and an evening temperature of approximately 4.44 degrees C (40 F). A basement or root cellar is usually cool enough to meet these requirements.
Lift the plastic every few days to check that the soil is moist. Spray the soil with water from a spray bottle to keep it moist.
Leave the seed-starter tray in the cool area until the pansy seeds germinate, which should take between 14 and 20 days. Remove the dark plastic bag once the pansy seeds begin to sprout.
Move the seed tray to an area that receives bright, indirect sunlight. Maintain moist, not wet, soil as the seedlings grow.
Transplant the seedlings into individual 10 cm (4 inch) pots once they develop their second set of leaves. Continue to maintain moist soil and bright, indirect sunlight. Transplant the pansies outdoors in the early spring.
If you do not have access to bright, indirect sunlight set the pansy seedlings under a grow light.
Do not overwater the pansy seeds. A light misting of water is all that is necessary. Soaked soil will prevent germination.