Do Pansies Spread? Are They Invasive?




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Do Pansies Spread? Are They Invasive?

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A Brief Overview of Pansies

Pansies are a popular flowering plant known for their vibrant colors and versatility in different climates. They are biennial or perennial plants that can reach a height of 15 to 30 cm and have heart-shaped flowers with overlapping petals.

Pansies are typically grown in zones 7 to 10, but they can also survive in colder regions with proper care and maintenance. Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet was credited with popularizing pansies in the early 18th century by growing, collecting, and cultivating violas in her father’s garden. 

In this blog post Do Pansies Spread? Are They Invasive? I aim to provide detailed information about the spreading habits of pansies and whether they are considered an invasive species. By exploring various sources and expert opinions, readers will gain a better understanding of how to properly care for and manage their pansies in the garden.

Do Pansies Spread?

Do Pansies Spread? Are They Invasive?
Do Pansies Spread? Are They Invasive?

Pansies do spread to some degree because they self-seed relatively easily in the garden. However, they are generally not considered to be an invasive species which is hugely problematic. This means that while they may spread, they are not likely to take over your garden and cause harm to the surrounding ecosystem. 

The same source also notes that if you end up with too many pansies, you can simply remove them from the garden bed before they flower, and that will stop them from multiplying in subsequent years.

A. Definition of plant spread

Plant spread refers to the ability of a plant to expand its range and occupy new areas beyond its original planting location. For pansies, plant spread can occur through several means, such as the growth of new plants from seeds or the expansion of existing plants through runners or stolons.

B. Factors affecting the pansy spread

Several factors can influence the spread of pansies. One of the most important factors is the growing environment. Pansies prefer cool temperatures and moderate levels of sunlight [1]. The soil type and moisture levels can also impact the spread of pansies. If the soil is too dry or compacted, pansies may struggle to spread effectively.

Another factor that can impact pansy spread is the specific cultivar or variety. Some pansies are more aggressive spreaders than others, and their growth habits can vary depending on the conditions in which they are grown [3].

C. Ways to control the pansy spread

If you are concerned about pansies spreading too aggressively in your garden, there are several steps you can take to control their growth. One option is to regularly deadhead the plants, which involves removing spent flowers before they have a chance to go to seed. This can help prevent new plants from growing and spreading [1].

Another option is to limit the amount of water and fertilizer that you provide to the plants. Pansies tend to spread more quickly in nutrient-rich and moist soil, so reducing these factors can help control their growth [3].

Finally, you can also consider planting pansies in containers rather than directly in the ground. This can help prevent them from spreading beyond their intended area and can also make it easier to control their growth [1].

Are Pansies Invasive Plants?

Are Pansies Invasive?

Pansies are not considered an invasive species. In fact, they are a popular garden flower that is widely used for their beauty and versatility. While they may spread to some degree, they are not likely to become problematic or cause harm to other plant species in the area.

Invasive plants are non-native plant species that can spread rapidly and aggressively, often dominating or displacing native plants in their new environment. They can cause harm to the ecosystem, including damage to crops and habitats, and can be difficult and costly to control [1].

Comparison of pansies with invasive plants

Pansies, also known as Viola x wittrockiana, are not considered invasive plants in Canada or in other parts of the world. They are typically grown as annuals or biennials, and their natural range is limited to Europe and Western Asia.

While they can self-seed and spread in a garden, they are not known to aggressively invade natural or agricultural ecosystems. In fact, pansies are often used as an ornamental plants in gardens due to their attractive flowers and ease of cultivation [2][3].

Advantages and disadvantages of growing pansies

Pansies have several advantages as a garden plant. They are relatively easy to grow and care for, and they are available in a wide range of colors and flower forms. They can also tolerate cooler temperatures and can be planted early in the spring, adding color to a garden when other plants may not yet be in bloom. Additionally, pansies are sometimes used as a cut flowers or in edible decorations for food due to their mild, sweet taste [1].

One potential disadvantage of growing pansies is that they may not thrive in hot weather, and may require cooler temperatures and some shade in order to perform well. Additionally, while they are not considered invasive plants, they may self-seed and spread in a garden, potentially crowding out other plants if not managed properly [1][3].

Definition of invasive plants

Invasive plants are plant species that are not native to a particular region and can cause harm when introduced into new areas [1]. These plants can grow rapidly and out-compete native vegetation, leading to a decline in biodiversity and ecological imbalance [3]. Invasive plants can also cause damage to agricultural lands and forests, leading to economic losses [2].

Comparison of pansies with invasive plants

Pansies are not considered invasive plants. They are popular garden flowers that are native to Europe and Western Asia and have been widely cultivated for their attractive blooms and hardiness [4]. Unlike invasive plants, pansies do not spread aggressively or pose a threat to native species [5]. In fact, pansies are often used in landscaping and gardening as ornamental plants and are not known to cause any harm to the environment.

Advantages and disadvantages of growing pansies

The advantages of growing pansies include their wide range of color options, ease of cultivation, and ability to thrive in cooler temperatures [5]. They are also relatively low maintenance and can be grown in a variety of garden settings, such as flowerbeds, containers, and hanging baskets. Pansies are also popular for their medicinal properties and are used in herbal medicine to treat ailments such as respiratory infections and skin irritations [4].

One disadvantage of growing pansies is their susceptibility to certain diseases and pests, such as root rot and aphids, which can affect their growth and appearance [4]. Additionally, pansies are short-lived perennials, meaning they may need to be replanted each year in colder climates [5]. However, with proper care and maintenance, pansies can provide a beautiful addition to any garden or landscape.

Overall, pansies are not invasive plants and can be a great choice for gardeners looking to add color and beauty to their outdoor spaces.

Planting and Caring for Pansies

Do Pansies Spread?
Do Pansies Spread?

How to plant pansies in the garden: Pansies are a beautiful addition to any garden, and planting them is relatively simple. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the best time to plant pansies is in early spring or fall [3]. Here are the steps to plant pansies in the garden:

  1. Choose a location with well-drained soil and morning sun but avoid the heat of the late afternoon [3].
  2. Space the plants about 7 to 12 inches apart. They will spread about 9 to 12 inches and grow to be about 6 to 9 inches tall [3].
  3. Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of the pansy plant.
  4. Place the plant in the hole and backfill it with soil.
  5. Water the plant well.

How to care for pansies

Caring for pansies is relatively easy and requires regular watering, fertilizing, and deadheading. According to Home Depot Canada, pansies need to be fed every other week during their growing cycle with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer [2]. Here are the steps to care for pansies:

  1. Water your pansies consistently, but be careful not to over-water them, as they don’t like soggy soil [2].
  2. Deadhead your pansies regularly to encourage more blooms. To do this, simply pinch off the spent flowers just above the leaves. This will prevent the plant from putting energy into seed production and instead encourage it to produce more flowers [2].
  3. Fertilize your pansies every other week with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer. This will help them grow nice and strong [2].

By following these simple steps, you can enjoy the beauty of pansies in your garden.

Differences Between Pansies and Other Plants

Comparison of pansies with other plants

Pansies are often compared with other plants such as violets, which have similar flowers. Violets are different from pansies in that they usually have three petals pointing upwards and two pointing downwards, while pansies have four petals pointing upwards and one pointing downwards [2]. Violas, on the other hand, usually have three petals pointing downwards and two pointing upwards, whereas pansies typically have one petal pointing downwards and four pointing upwards [3].

How to distinguish pansies from other look-alike plants

Pansies can be distinguished from other look-alike plants by examining the petals. In general, pansies have four petals that point upward and one that points downward, while other similar plants such as violets and violas have different petal arrangements [2, 3]. 

When it comes to planting and cultivation, pansies have distinctive requirements for optimal growth, so it’s important to follow specific care instructions to ensure their success. For example, when planting pansies, it is recommended to surface sow the seeds and place them in a black garbage bag in a cool spot to help with germination [1]. 

To care for pansies, it’s important to water them consistently, but not over-water, and to feed them with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer every other week during their growing cycle [2]. By following these guidelines, gardeners can ensure that their pansies thrive and stand out among other similar plants.

Do Pansies Need To Be Deadheaded?

According to the information found in the provided web search results, deadheading pansies is recommended to promote more blooms and prevent the plant from setting seed pods. Deadheading should be done as soon as the petals start to droop and the color fades, and should be carried out regularly to ensure optimal results [1].

If the old flowers are left on the plant, the development of new flowers will be hindered, and the plant’s energy will be spent on producing seed pods instead. Deadheading allows the plant to focus on creating new flowers, and more blooms will be produced as a result [2].

However, it is worth noting that deadheading is not strictly necessary and is more important for annuals like pansies that are grown for their flowers rather than their foliage. If you prefer to leave the old flowers on the plant, it will still continue to produce some new blooms, albeit not as many as it would with deadheading.

In conclusion, while pansies do not necessarily need to be deadheaded, it is recommended if you want to promote more blooms and prevent the plant from setting seed pods. Deadheading should be done regularly as soon as the petals start to droop and the color fades [1].

Where Is The Best Place To Grow Pansies?

According to the provided web search results, the best place to grow pansies depends on factors such as soil temperature, spacing, and amount of sunlight. Pansies grow best when soil temperatures are between 45°F and 65°F (7°C and 18°C) [1], and can tolerate a light frost just after planting.

In the garden bed, they should be planted at the same depth as their nursery pot in well-draining soil, with 6 to 12 inches between each plant to give them room to grow and breathe [2]. For containers, it is recommended to avoid crowding the plants and consider planting three to four pansy plants in a 10 to 12-inch pot [2].

Pansies prefer full sun, but in hotter areas, it is advised to look for heat-resistant cultivars and plant them in the moderate shade [3].

How Long Will Pansies Survive?

According to [1], pansies generally have little freeze tolerance and will die in sustained winters. However, in areas with moderate temperatures, they may come back in spring, especially if they were mulched to protect the roots.

In most hardiness zones, pansies only grow for one season, but they will readily send out volunteer seeds, which can pop up again and again in future seasons. Deadheading pansies during their growing season will urge them to grow bushier, and cutting back bare stems is also helpful in keeping them bushy [3].

If you want to grow pansies, you can start them from seed, and it takes about 10 to 12 weeks from seed to plant. Southern gardeners should sow seeds in beds outdoors in the fall, while northern gardeners should start seeds indoors in early spring or try winter sowing techniques [2].

What Month Do Pansies Bloom?

Pansies can bloom in different months depending on the climate and location. In cool climates, pansies typically bloom from spring to summer, and the flowers die back as temperatures rise [1]. In zones 3 through 6, they start blooming in the spring and die back in the fall when temperatures consistently drop below 40°F [3].

In hot areas, their bloom time is from fall to winter [1]. The availability of established pansy plants in garden centers varies based on the location and climate, but they can typically be found from August through March or April of the following year [2]. It is worth noting that new cultivars have been developed to offer longer pansy flowering seasons [1].

Preparing Pansies For Winter?

To prepare pansies for winter, it is important to start with healthy plants [1]. When planting, select plants with strong stems and buds, not blooms. This will help the plants establish their roots before winter arrives.

Pansies should be planted in well-draining soil with good air circulation and spaced at least 8 inches apart [3]. The ideal temperature range for planting is between 45°F and 65°F [2]. Mulching around the plants with pine straw can help to retain heat and protect the plants from cold temperatures.

However, it is important to ensure that the mulch does not become too wet, as this can cause rot and disease [2]. It is also important to avoid allowing cold water to gather around the plants, as this can kill them. Regular watering is necessary, but be careful not to over-water, especially as winter approaches. With proper care, pansies can survive through the winter and continue to bloom in the spring [1].

What Is the History of Pansies?

According to [1], the name “pansy” is derived from the French word “pensée,” meaning “thought,” and was imported into Late Middle English as a name of Viola in the mid-15th century, as the flower was regarded as a symbol of remembrance. The name “love in idleness” implied the image of a lover who has little or no other employment than to think of his beloved.

Pansies have been cultivated for a long time and their origin is uncertain. They belong to the genus Viola in the family Violaceae, and their numerous forms, with striking variations in color, are the product of domestication. Pansies are popular cultivated violets that have been grown under diverse conditions and in a variety of forms [2].

Pansies have a scientific name of viola x wittrockiana and came from the French word “pensie,” which means remembrance or thought. Pansies, violets, and violas can have interchangeable names, but each one possesses certain distinctions [3].


Q: What are spreading pansies?

A: Spreading pansies, also known as trailing pansies, are a type of pansy with long, trailing stems that can reach up to two feet in length. They are great for hanging baskets, containers, and a ground cover. These types of pansies are often marketed as Cool Wave or Wave pansies. [1]

Q: What is the best spacing for pansies?

A: It’s recommended to space pansies at least 8 inches apart for optimal growth. This will grant them good air circulation and reduce competition between the pansy roots. [3]

Q: Are pansies deep-rooted?

A: No, pansies have shallow roots, which makes them susceptible to drought stress. It’s important to keep the soil moist but not soggy to help the plant thrive. [2

Q: What is the difference between pansies and violas?

A: Pansies and violas are similar in appearance and are both part of the Viola family. However, pansies are larger and have fewer flowers per plant, while violas are smaller and have more flowers per plant. Pansy flowers also have a distinctive “face” or blotch in the center of the flower, while violas usually have a more uniform color pattern. [1][2]

Q: What are the best pansies to grow?

A: There are many cultivars of pansies available, but some popular and reliable options include ‘The Delta series, ‘The Matrix series, ‘Cool Wave’, ‘Panola’ series, and ‘Colossus’. These cultivars are known for their hardiness, disease resistance, and long blooming periods. [1][2]

Q: Why are pansies called pansies?

A: The name “pansy” comes from the French word “pensée,” which means “thought.” The flower was given this name because it was thought to resemble a human face, and in the language of flowers, it was associated with thoughts of remembrance and admiration. [1][2]



In conclusion, pansies do spread to some degree but are not considered an invasive species. With proper care and maintenance, gardeners can enjoy the beauty and versatility of these flowers without having to worry about them taking over the garden. By removing excess plants before they flower, gardeners can control the spread of pansies and keep them looking beautiful year after year.

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About Joanne Jensen


Joanne Bettina Jensen

Joanne Jensen is a renowned gardener with over 45 years of experience in gardening. Her passion for gardening began when she was a child, assisting her Mom and Nana in tending to their backyard garden’s in England.

Now it has evolved into an amazing blog. Since then, she has developed a deep appreciation for plants and has devoted her life to learning more about them. To read more go to her about page

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