How To Grow Winter Pansies (Ice Pansies)

Everything you need to know about this cold-hardy pansy

yellow and white pansies in pot
Photo: Southern Living, 2006

Just because the cold comes around doesn't mean you have to give up color in your garden. Winter pansies (V. heimalis) are the perfect option to bring some bloom to your flowerbeds in winter. Unlike your typical pansies, winter pansies (V. heimalis) are a unique species of pansy that are more cold-hardy than other pansies, making them perfect to plant in the colder months.

Also known as ice pansies, icicle pansies, and winter flowering pansies, this species produces smaller flowers than other, more common pansy types. They bloom in many different colors, including white, yellow, pink, purple, red, and other bi-color options. V. heimalis grows very well in cooler temperatures, and will actually start declining in health when the temperature goes above 60 degrees F. Read on for all you need to know about winter pansies.

Pansies in Pot
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Winter Pansy Care

While pansies are pretty resilient, they will need a little extra attention in the winter months. Below is all you need to know about caring for your pansies this winter.


Plant pansies in a place where they will get at least four hours of sunlight a day. They should also be facing the sun for optimal growth.


Plant your winter pansies in soil that is between the temperatures of 45 and 65 degrees F. Make sure the soil has good drainage and doesn't allow cold water to gather around your pansies, as this will likely kill your pansies. For added warmth, try adding a layer of mulch around your pansies—pine straw will do the best at holding in the heat.


Depending on how wet your winters are should determine how often you water your pansies. If your pansies are in a pot and covered on your porch or the like, they should be watered regularly. Be wary of overwatering your pansies as this could cause your pansies to develop root rot. Check the dryness level by sticking your finger into the soil. If the soil is moist, it should be okay.


Feed your pansies with a batch of water-soluble, liquid fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food 15-30-15. Moisten the soil with plain water first, and then pour on the fertilizer. It is important to use liquid fertilizer rather than granular fertilizer because it is easier for the plant to absorb the liquid fertilizer in the colder months. Feed your pansies about every two to three weeks during the season—this will ensure they have enough nutrients to continue growing.

Flowering Jar Pansies
Container Recipe:Dwarf Alberta spruce, Viola, Pansy, 'Red Chidori' ornamental kale, Golden creeping Jenny, and English ivy. Light: Sun to part shade, Water: Medium. Photo: Ralph Lee Anderson

When Is the Best Time To Plant Winter Pansies?

September or early October is the best time to plant transplanted winter pansies. This will give them ample time to grow a solid root system so they are secure during the harsh winter months. However, if you plant them in late October or even November, not all hope is lost—but they are less likely to survive since they didn't have as much time to grow their roots. If you are starting your pansies from seeds, you should plant them mid to late summer so they have plenty of time to germinate and start growing their foundational roots.

Tips to Give Your Winter Pansies a Pick-Me-Up

When cold-hardy pansies start to droop in the winter months, most likely, they're too wet, too dry, or suffering from cold nights, harsh winds, or maybe just a little neglect. Don't despair; it happens to even the best. A few minutes of attention, and they'll be back and blooming before you know it. Here are a few tips to give your pansies a pick-me-up.

Alison Miksch

Give Your Pansies a Haircut

It's true; nothing feels better than a little pampering. If you're a pansy plant, being covered with spent flowers is like needing a good haircut. You just want it all to go away. Remove old blooms and their stems because they sap energy from the new growth.

Next, take off those damaged, curled-up leaves. They have to feel just plain yucky to your plant. Snip them off, and things will get better. Small scissors are the perfect tool for trimming foliage.

Give Your Pansies Nourishment

Finally, after all this preening and clipping, your pansies may be looking thin and hungry. Nourishment is in order. Pansies need extra fertilizer during the winter months to continue flourishing. Mix up a batch of water-soluble, liquid fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food 15-30-15, and give them a substantial meal. Moisten the soil with plain water first, and then pour on the fertilizer.

A truth about gardening and dessert: Fertilizer and chocolate have nothing in common. While one chocolate is good, two are infinitely better. This is not the case with liquid fertilizer and pansies. Mix it according to the label directions; a stronger solution does not make plants bloom faster. In fact, the salts in the fertilizer damage the plants when mixed improperly.

Give Your Pansies Vitamin D

While winter pansies are very tolerant of the cold, they grow the best in sunlight. When planting your pansies, consider their location. Make sure to plant them where they are facing the sun, and give them at least four hours of sunlight per day.

How Long Will My Winter Pansies Last?

Winter pansies will bloom for five to eight months if cared for properly, which means you get a lot of color for a large portion of the year. Plus, if they're treated well, they should come back for three years or more.

How Do I Protect Winter Pansies From Hard Freezes?

Winter pansies won't go into dormancy until the temperature dips to about 25 degrees F, and can survive temperatures as low as 20 degrees F, which makes them great winter plants. Provide a light pine straw cover to reduce damage during a hard freeze. Also, be sure to water your pansies before a hard freeze—this is especially true for pansies in pots.

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