purple and yellow pansies

It’s still pretty cold here in Ohio.  But, that’s okay, because the cold weather doesn’t have to stop your gardening!  You can plant cold-hardy pansies and violas in the early spring in Ohio.

But what is the difference between pansies and violas and how do you ensure that your pansies and violas thrive?

What’s the Difference Between Pansies and Violas

Pansies are part of the viola family.  However, while both pansies and violas are cold-tolerant perennials that look similar, they are indeed different.  Pansies are bigger than violas.  Also, pansies have one petal pointing down and four petals pointing up, whereas violas have three petals pointing down and two petals pointing up.

Violas do better in the heat than pansies, but neither particularly likes hot temperatures.  They thrive in the cooler temperatures of late winter, early spring, and late fall.

When to Plant Pansies and Violas in Ohio

You can plant pansies and violas when the average temperature is about forty degrees Fahrenheit. Plant your pansies in Ohio during February or March or in late September or October.  This is because pansies and violas thrive when the temperature is between forty and sixty degrees Fahrenheit.

Best Conditions for Pansies and Violas


Pansies and violas prefer slight shade or full sunlight.  Full-sun areas help flowers survive in cold weather, but they don’t protect them from the hot sun in summer.  

Plant pansies and violas where they receive morning sun but are shielded from the sun during the hottest part of the day.  If you don’t have this space, then plant these flowers in pots so that you can move them into the shade during hot days.

Soil and Fertilizer

Pansies and violas need well-draining and slightly acidic soil that allows them to have even moisture.  Consider using a humus-rich soil mix.

Fertilize pansies and violas every 2-3 weeks (2 weeks if they’re in pots) with a high-phosphorus fertilizer.  High nitrogen fertilizers encourage the plant to grow leaves instead of flowers.


Water pansies and violas regularly, even during the winter.  They should be consistently moist.


To encourage pansies and violas to continue blooming, deadhead any fading blooms under the blossom but above the leaves.

Why Pansies and Violas are Awesome Flowers

There are so many reasons why we love pansies and violas.  One is that they bring color during the gray wintery days.  They also herald the coming of spring with their bright colors and are great for adding the first color to springtime beds.  Pansies and violas can create colorful displays when fall comes as well.

Pansies are also versatile flowers, so they can work well as bedding plants, potted plants, or in window boxes.

We also love that pansies and violas look dainty but are actually tough flowers that can brave the winter.  They are tiny, but mighty!

Pansies and violas are also great for overwintering.  They go dormant around twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit and then rebound when they get enough sun.  Overwinter pansies and violas by throwing a light layer of protective mulch (such as straw) over them and watering them periodically throughout the winter.  Some of the best pansy and viola varieties for surviving winter are: Admire Cream, King Henry, Penny, XP, and Matrix.  

Blue, white, and yellow pansies and violas tend to be the hardiest varieties.  However, pansies come in a variety of colors, so you have lots of color choices.

Pansies and violas are also great for pollinators because the flowers produce lots of nectar.  Butterflies love these flowers.

Ohio’s Pansy & Viola Spring Festival

We love pansies and violas so much that we are having a Pansy & Viola Festival at Stockslager’s Greenhouse & Garden Center from March 23rd to March 30th.  This is one of Ohio’s best spring festivals, and we will have live music, a food truck, flower-themed treats, tours of our greenhouses, and educational talks about the symbolism and history of pansies.  All pansies and violas are 20% off during this spring flower festival.  

Come and celebrate these beautiful flowers and the coming of spring in Ohio with us!

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